My friend Jamie, Milk Allergy Mom, reminds me of the importance of self care in her Facebook Support Group every week. She posts a conversation thread that I always thought was cute, but the importance of it finally dawned on me. Self care isn’t just about reacting when you feel depleted. It’s about being proactive and creating the strength to handle whatever life throws at us. Self care can be emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, or all of the above. And it doesn’t have to be a big resolution. It can actually be a bunch of very small actions.
In many cases, going dairy-free, or taking on a special diet, is a form of self care. But it can be a big shift. So I have several smaller, easy, specific self care concepts that can help you love this new-to-you way of eating.
6 Ways to Enjoy Diet Self Care Throughout the Year
These tips work for any type of dietary transition, whether you are trialing plant-based, diving into Whole30 or keto, or cutting out food allergens. But I have included some specific dairy-free examples, since that is my specialty!
Be mindful of your choice.
You might be aware that you “should” follow a certain diet. But being present with your decision can help you to enjoy this change, rather than making it feel like a punishment. When you’re preparing a meal or snack, remind yourself why you are making it. View it as a self care reward for your health rather than thinking about what it isn’t.
Dairy-Free Examples: This delicious food won’t cause my skin to break out, will keep my stomach feeling good, will help in my weight loss effort, or will help to keep me safe from reactions.
Try making something from scratch each week.
Kneading bread dough, whisking and taste-testing your own salad dressing, or slow cooking a sauce with just the right seasonings is a rewarding experience. And it gives you complete control over the ingredients.
Dairy-Free Examples: For the 2nd Edition of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook I tested twenty-five different types of milk beverages (the results are in the book). It was so much fun! They’re easy to make and so many plant foods can be “milked.” Try your own taste-testing experiment.
Turn everything off and truly enjoy your food.
Last week, Tony and I decided to turn off the TVs, the computers, and the phones. We simply hoped to relax, but what we didn’t expect was for food to start tasting so darn good. Suddenly, ordinary meals that we had eaten a hundred times, were immensely flavorful.
How to Do It: Pick a relaxing space – on the couch, in front of a big window, outside, by the fireplace – wherever you feel most comfortable. And enjoy your food without any distractions – unless it’s good company!
Try something new.
It sounds simple and obvious, but like us, you might not be doing it. We go to Trader Joe’s every week with our rotating list of foods to pick up. But it had been so long since we took the time to peruse the aisles and try some new-to-us items. I was worried about a ridiculously high grocery bill, but we ended up just swapping some of our usual items for some new options. The bill was the same, and we found some new favorites!
Dairy-Free Examples: Dairy-free goodies are popping up in every section of the grocery store. Look for frozen desserts, pizzas, veggie burgers, sauces, whole food snacks, bakery items, and so much more.
Make a food bucket list.
In most cases, your list of “can have” foods is WAY bigger than your list of “can’t have” foods. You just don’t realize it. Make a big list of the foods you want to enjoy, and even flavor pairings to try. It can include fruits, vegetables, proteins, spices, herbs, nuts or seeds, oils, vinegars, grains, pastas, condiments … the sky is the limit.
Dairy-Free Examples: You can keep it simple with big lists of whole foods, or seek out some adventurous ideas like ume plum vinegar for a touch of “umami” and avocado oil for a rich, monounsaturated, high-heat option. And have you bought or made your own cashew butter? Now that is versatile bliss!
Try to avoid just leaning on convenience foods to get you through the diet. Instead, make them rewards for meeting goals – something special that you look forward to earning. Maybe you spent time being present while helping your child with homework, or walked to the store instead of driving.
Dairy-Free Examples: We aren’t just talking about dessert here. Maybe you’ve been wanting to try a new dairy-free bar on the market, a specialty “nut cheese,” or a high-quality sauce.
How Do You Self Care?
I’m not making any set resolutions this year, but improving my self care is definitely a priority for 2019. I have a few things I’ll be addressing. But for Go Dairy Free, it will mean sharing posts with you when I’m inspired, or simply when I see something great to share. No rules, no deadlines, just great content as it comes up!
And I’d love to hear the ways you love to take care of you! We can all use some inspiration.