Eating the right food to become more confident and improve positive self-esteem
With the new year approaching, oftentimes we find ourselves ‘analyzing’ our appearance and may even start to map out the ‘new year, new me’ game plan.
While it’s OK to have aesthetic goals, it is equally if not more important to feel confident in your body, have a positive relationship with your body image and have a healthy self-care routine.
Both a healthy self-care routine and a healthy relationship with your body image will help you in turn feel more confident and grounded. With this confidence and sense of self-appreciation, you are more likely to not only start healthy habits that will promote your goals but also maintain these healthy habits and sustain the results you achieve.
The Importance of Healthy Fats
Fats are the most calorically dense and needed in the least amount in our diets (20-35% of your daily energy intake), that’s not to say they are not important or even essential.
There are two essential fatty acids (fats) that we need to consume via our diet as the body does not make them. These are the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in flax, walnuts and fatty fish. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
It’s important to remember that fats are important for hormonal health. They also play an important role in brain health, and cell membrane integrity and some can be anti-inflammatory. Fats also provide a large amount of energy (ATP) for the body (9 kcals per gram, compared to protein and carbs providing 4 kcals per gram).
We require body fat for optimal functioning. Men should ideally have 12-20% body fat, with a minimum level of 4-6%. Women should ideally have 22-30% body fat, with a minimum of 17% for normal menstrual cycles.
Athletes Kitchen uses a variety of healthy fats such as eggs, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, chicken thighs, beef, and salmon, to name a few.
The only fats you should aim to limit/reduce would be trans-fats, which are found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods and fried foods.
Moving Beyond Stereotypes
Society today unfortunately places too much emphasis on body image. While this is a reality, it doesn’t mean that we need to fit into their ‘box’.
By being aware of societal stereotypes regarding body image, in addition to our dispositions, we can take a preventative approach and stop ourselves if we notice we are trying to fit into their ideal image of how we should look and act.
Often there are paradoxes found in these societal stereotypes, like females needing to be ‘thin’ and at the same time needing to eat more.
Both men and women are affected by these societal stereotypes. Men should be dominant, muscular, independent and productive compared to women who are seen as more dependent, private, passive, and emotional.
Some even go as far as promoting foods as masculine or feminine. For example, red meat, starches and more variety are masculine compared to fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy and simplicity are said to be more feminine.
Being aware of your personal preferences in terms of what you like to eat and how you eat, can help you steer clear from fitting into society’s box of how and what you should eat. Some people strive when they eat denser meals less frequently throughout the day, while others do better eating lighter meals more frequently. This is one of the reasons why Athletes Kitchen offers a wide variety of meals that will be sure to fit your preferences.
Furthermore, the same goes for body image; being aware of your body type and what your body looks like when you feel the best can help you when you question if you should change your appearance. Some people are naturally thinner, while others may be more muscular, independent of gender. Knowing what your body strives for can help you stay confident and secure in yourself.
Balanced Nutrition for a Positive Body Image
One way to promote a positive body image is to start implementing healthy lifestyle habits. Habits such as moving your body daily, be that a walk, a yoga class, doing a strength workout or a conditioning class. Setting some boundaries around sleep, what time you go to bed and wake up, what the first and last hour of your day looks like etc. Scheduling in some ‘fun’ time as well, be that working on a hobby, seeing friends or family or learning a new skill.
When you start to move, sleep well and surround yourself with uplifting activities and people, you will start to feel more at ease and comfortable.
In addition to the above, nutrition and eating nutritious meals can help you tremendously feeling positive in your body. There is a deep connection between what we eat and how we feel (not how we look, rather how we feel). Eating nutritiously poor foods that are filled with ‘fake’ ingredients can leave you feeling empty, not full, wanting more and can sometimes leads to you wanting more despite not being hungry.
On the other hand, eating a diet filled with nutritious foods that provide you with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates and fibre can leave you feeling full, satiated, energized and ready to go.
While yes, it is okay to have some ‘non nutritious’ foods occasionally, because there is a social and emotional aspect of nutrition outside of the physiological aspect, therefore it is important to balance those ‘sometimes’ foods in an 80/20 concept.
How Athletes Kitchen can help you get started
Athletes Kitchen is a meal delivery service that offers ready to eat meals that are tasty, portion controlled and nutritious. We have two weekly delivery options on Wednesday and Sunday, in the greater Toronto area. Something that makes us different compared to other meal delivery services is that we have a rotating menu every 7 weeks.
Athletes Kitchen has many meal plans to choose from, from plant based, breakfast options, salads, desserts, snacks, gluten free, dairy free, soy free and egg free, to name a few. Furthermore, we have many portion sizes, meals that are smaller to promote fat loss, others that are larger for those who want to put on muscle, and many options in between. We guarantee there is the right meal plan for you and our nutritionist Diane is here to help you with your first order.
Athletes Kitchen will focus on providing you with fresh restaurant quality meals that are delivered and incorporate many different flavours from different cuisines. As busy professionals ourselves, we know the importance of eating a healthy diet, getting the right amount of calories, while also enjoying the taste of our meals.
Self-Care for the New Year
As much as nutrition and eating healthy meals are important, it is also essential to prioritize our self-care routine.
Self-care doesn’t have to be super complex or time-consuming. There may be moments in your year when you can take more time for your self-care routine, and other times when it is less. That is when I like to revert to my non-negotiable list.
When I think of a non-negotiable list, I think of the bare minimum I would like to do each day/week/month. So for example, instead of 4-5 workouts a week, I aim to do 2. Instead of 12K steps per day, I aim for 8K. Instead of reading every day for 10 minutes, I’ll read at least twice. Instead of connecting with a friend weekly, I’ll make sure I have at least one social activity each month.
Think of self-care as an umbrella term that has many different aspects underneath.
Physical, mental, emotional, and social are just a few examples.
- walking, stretching, going to a group class (cycle, strength, yoga), going to the gym
- reading, meditating, journaling, working on a hobby
- having a shower, or a bath, getting a massage
- ordering healthy meals delivered to your door
- calling a friend, going to an event, meeting up with your community, people-watching
Another form of self-care is nutrition. Eating a healthful diet, with complex carbs, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables is a great form of self-care. Athletes Kitchen can help you in multiple ways, be that by introducing you to healthy meals or meal prep for you so you have one less thing on your to-do list.
Download our Holiday Guide
We invite you to download our Holiday Bonus Guide and try Athlete’s Kitchen meals as part of your New Year self-care plan.
If you are looking for one on one support, our Nutritionist Diane offers complementary calls to further discuss your goals, will explain her services and can help you get started with your first order. Here is her booking link.