When I first wrote the Revitalized Business Woman Manifesto (you can sign up to snag it here -->), this phrase kept coming up: “Eat Sweet Potato Fries”. I remember thinking to myself “why am I going to be writing about sweet potatoes? And what does that have to do with self-care for busy professional women?” Turns out, it’s a great metaphor.
You see, I’ve had to work long and hard on my relationship with food over the last 25 years due to chronic health issues. Of course I’m not perfect with this and I struggle with wanting to eat “normally” all the time.
I remember when I lived in Tallahassee whining to my brilliant nurse practitioner Patrice Bullock of New Genesis Center in Thomasville, Georgia, “But Patrice! I want to eat a “normal” diet!”
Her response: “But Elizabeth, the “normal” Standard American Diet is filled with junk!”
Ah. She has a point there.
Food is medicine.
Food is fuel.
Food is power.
When I follow a clean eating plan, I eat whole unprocessed foods, I avoid gluten, sugar and dairy and I always feel better. Not only am I physically stronger, I am mentally sharper and emotionally more stable.
But who doesn’t want a “treat” now and then, right?
One thing my work with Patrice and other Functional Medicine practitioners has taught me is how to tune in to Mother’s Nature’s natural “treats” – her gifts of color, flavor and texture when it comes to natural, whole foods. They are a much better choice to ingest and enjoy than the processed, greasy, sugary foods that are part of the Standard American Diet (SAD).
I don’t know about you, but give me crisp, colorful sweet potato fries any day over those lame soggy white potato ones.
If you like sweet potatoes, you know what I mean, right?
Sweet potato fries FEEL like they are indulgent. They are pretty on your plate which makes your taste buds even happier. They have that awesome juxtaposition of sweet and salty flavors. And they have that stick-to-your-ribs quality which leaves you feeling satisfied.
Plain old white potatoes are OK. If they have the right seasoning, they can be pretty yummy, but I don’t usually feel like I’ve treated myself after I’ve eaten then, I feel like I have to eat salad for a week afterwards!
If you read my recent article about how subtle changes can make a big impact when it comes to your self-care decisions, you know that choosing your self-care strategies is a little like choosing which French fries to eat. Both will provide sustenance but one feels more decadent and self-loving at the same time, right?
Try these subtle changes and see if your self care feels more decadent and self-loving:
1. Start your morning with dedicated time to pray, meditate or do yoga vs. just hopping out of bed, grabbing a shower and coffee and running out the door.
2. Hike on a trail in the woods vs. walk your neighborhood’s concrete sidewalks.
3. Pack a healthy lunch and sit on a park bench at work vs. running out to grab a meal at a local deli or fast food chain.
4. Luxuriate in a bubble bath with candles & jazz music vs. grabbing a quick shower.
5. Buy a few quality investment pieces of clothing that will last for a decade vs. buying cheap trendy clothes that you’ll only wear for a season.
6. When commuting to work, listen to motivational CDs vs. numbing out to lame top 40 tunes on the radio (I like Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift, too, but enough is enough!)
7. Shop at the farmer’s market each week to buy local produce vs. buying produce that’s been shipped 1500 miles to your local grocery store
8. Plan a girlfriends weekend at a retreat center with a labyrinth and organic food vs. going partying and shopping in Las Vegas
9. Choose a journal with a gorgeous cover and paper that feels good to the touch and use an elegant pen vs. grabbing a black and white composition notebook and a ballpoint pen to capture your precious ideas
Revitalizing Action: Grab a sheet of paper and on the left side of the page, make a list of 5-10 things that you currently do for your self-care. Then, on the right side of the page, come up with the corresponding self-care strategy that would feel a little more like eating sweet potato fries. Try doing a few of those in the next week and share your comments below and let me know how you did!