• Nicole Bentley, LCSW

The Importance of Self-Nourishment

This post is for every person who wonders about their relationship with food and themselves, and is curious how to improve those relationships. We will be discussing the importance of nourishing ourselves and how it impacts our connections with our bodies and our self-esteem. This is a connection that is not often talked about, and is hugely important because nourishing ourselves well can have a significant impact on our self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.


When we are thirsty, we drink. When we are tired, we rest. And when we are hungry, we nee to eat. Responding to our bodies cues is the most fundamental form of self-care, and sends the message that we love and care for ourselves. On the contrary, when we ignore our body’s needs, it can break down our self-esteem.


A perfect example of this is ignoring hunger. Individuals who feel hungry and repeatedly choose to ignore that sensation are at a greater risk of feeling disconnected from their bodies because they are not treating them with the respect they deserve. Similarly, individuals who don’t prioritize their bodies basic needs are at risk of sending the message of “I don’t care about you” to themselves. This can be found in behaviors such as not planning meals, not cooking for yourself, or feeling surprised by hunger each day and running out to frantically buy lunch. These actions, when repeated often, break down the connection a person has with themselves on a fundamental level.





On the contrary, a person who nourishes themselves sends the message that they love and care about their bodies, and are worthy and important. This can be conveyed through mindful eating, planful eating, intuitive eating, and cooking. These activities show that you understand you are a human being with nutritional needs and love yourself enough to tend to those needs. This message is sent over and over, and improves your self-esteem over time.


Let's consider the comparison of a mother feeding her newborn baby. She understands when the baby is hungry and nourishes them so they can grow. We all need to tap into our inner mother and nourish ourselves if we want to have a healthier relationship with food, our bodies, and ourselves as a whole person.


So the natural question is, how can I achieve this?


Let’s discuss a few changes you can make in your day-to-day life that will yield a healthier relationship between yourself and food, increased self-esteem, and improved self-worth.

  1. Tuning in to your hunger and fullness cues is a great place to start. Eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are satisfied is a skill that many of us have lost touch with, and we can certainly get it back with some practice. Remind yourself to check-in with your hunger levels throughout the day, and respond to those cues accordingly. Assess when you are full, and sit with any urges that might come up to continue eating to assess what emotional function those urges serve.

  2. Cooking for ourselves. You don’t have to cook every meal every day, but viewing cooking for yourself as a form of self-care and a way to send yourself the message of self-love is a great start. Pay attention to the fact that you are nourishing yourself when cooking a meal that you plan to eat and enjoy. Consider increasing the amount you cook for yourself if you don’t do it often. Cooking yourself a meal is the adult equivalent of the mother/newborn comparison used earlier.

  3. Allow yourself to go “off script.” If you always have a morning snack, but one morning you are noticing that you aren’t hungry, then go ahead and skip it for that day. On the contrary, if you typically don’t snack between meals and are hungry at 3:00 pm, allow a snack to nourish yourself because that hunger is there for a reason. Testing these habits and experimenting with new ones is yet another way to send yourself the message “hey, I care enough about you to pay attention to this.”

It is important to note that if you are in treatment or recovery for an eating disorder, please follow the guidance of your treatment team. Additionally, if you feel you are not in the place right now to assess and change the way you nourish yourself, trust that intuition and keep this blog post in mind for a time when you are ready. Willingness to look at these topics can absolutely influence change in your life.





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