3 Ways Self-Love Improves Diet

self love & diet

3 Ways Self-Love Improves Diet

Valentine’ Day is in the air. The time where small or grandiose gestures are made to show affection. This year, I challenge you to increase self-love! This involves prioritizing your needs and putting boundaries in place so that you live your happiest life. I like to think of self-love as filling your metaphorical cup, which inevitably leads to having more to give to others. Let’s get on this love train and discuss the 3 Ways Self-Love Improves Diet.


If the idea of increasing self-love sounds too far out there, I get it. We live in a hectic world. We are inundated with distractions and obligations. We feel stress and burnout like never before. The ‘burnout badge of honour’ often feels like a “thing”. Nevertheless, we can all sympathize with the feeling of running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  But remember this way of living ALWAYS comes at a price. Remember that if you feel frazzled (and put yourself last) this will inevitably compromise your physical health, diet and/or your mental health.

Putting yourself last compromises your #diet, physical &/or mental #health. #SelfCare Click To Tweet

Hectic Schedules Negatively Impact Health:

  • No time to prioritize meal preparation or grocery shopping causes stress and makes healthy eating seem inconvenient
  • Skipping meals because we are “too busy” increases binge episodes, raises diabetes risk and leads to lower energy for physical activity


  • Unmanaged stress can trigger emotional eating as a coping mechanism, this may become a bad habit
Discover how your hectic schedule compromises your diet! #dietitian #health Click To Tweet

3 Ways Self-Love Improves Diet:

  1. Learning to Listen to Your Body:

I am a firm believer that our bodies are always speaking to us. The problem is we are not always listening. Did you know that we can’t have a thought without having it resonate somewhere in the body? For example, think about sipping a hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day – where do you feel this in your body? Or, take notice when stress rises; is there is tightness in your chest or throat? Getting into the habit of tuning into your body and noticing where you are feeling your emotions keeps you in tune. This way, you can learn how to respond in a self-nurturing way.


Let’s use a common example: When people are busy they can sometimes go long periods without eating. Our body usually tells us to eat something through a rumbly belly, light-headedness or “hangry” outbursts. For some, after years of not listening to their body’s hunger cues, they stop hearing them. This means they are able to go very long periods without eating and not notice that their body is famished. They may experience insatiable cravings later (often in the evening) when the distractions have lessened. The act of listening to your body and fuelling adequately is a form of self-care.

The act of listening to your body & fuelling = self-care. #eat #nourish Click To Tweet

Notice if you find yourself rushing in the morning. Perhaps you’re helping the kids get dressed, hectically packing lunches and speeding into the drive-thru to grab a bite. Stop and tune into the body. What is actually going on? When you work through lunch at your computer while responding to “important” e-mails, what is going on within your body? Training yourself to listen to your body is often neglected but a powerful tool for honouring yourself.


When clients get into the habit of checking in with their body, the next step is responding in a self-nurturing way. One client realized she ALWAYS ate while distracted. She never noticed how hungry or full she was before (or after) eating. When she got into the habit of listening to her body, she was able to check in with how she was feeling, rate her hunger and listen to her body while eating. Portion controlling became easier. She was also more aware of “what” she was eating because she was no longer on “autopilot”. For this client, the benefits were paramount and listening and honouring her body became acts of self-care.

DYK: Listening to your body's hunger cues is a sign of #SelfLove? Click To Tweet

Start this self-care practice by checking in with your body, listening and honouring/responding to what your body is telling you. This leads to an improvement in the types of foods you choose and the amounts you eat.

  1. Say Yes (and No) to Exercise

Self-love is not militant. It does not mean that you have to achieve high-level goals in order to care for yourself. A personal example, I enjoy physical activity. I keep a regular regime around three to four times a week.  However, there was a point this summer where I caught myself not wanting to go and forcing myself to go anyways. One Sunday morning, I said to my sister, “I feel like I should go but I really don’t feel like it”. My wise little sister said, “why don’t you do what you truly want to do?” BAM! AHH. I got it. I was not exercising from a place of self-love (which would mean exercising because that’s what my body desired). Instead, I was forcing myself when my body really needed to rest. After this realization (and the permission to say no), my level of enjoyment catapulted! Exercise became a gift I could choose. It felt extremely rewarding when I went from a place of genuine desire versus a feeling of obligation.


I know what some must be thinking: What if I never feel the “desire” to exercise or implement intentional movement?  Or perhaps I feel like I “should” exercise, but never want to. I get it. This way of feeling really steals the enjoyment of exercise. My advice, is to keep looking for movement that you enjoy! Try a Zumba class, spinning, walking on a new trail. Remember that exercising from a place of self-love is not militant. Instead, it’s enjoyable. Plus, it’s really hard to keep something up if you truly don’t want to do it.


If you are looking for a reason to start implementing a regular exercise routine, in the book, The Power of Habit, researchers found that when people started habitually exercising (even once a week) they started changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. This is known as a “key stone habit” which means it triggers other patterns. Researchers found people who exercise started eating better and become more productive at work. They also felt less stressed. It appears that there’s something about exercise that makes other good habits easier to stick to.

Give yourself permission to say yes (or no) to exercise and ensure it is part of an enjoyable routine. Notice how you feel: a decrease in stress, an increase in endorphins (happy hormones), improved sleep, enjoyment from a deep, therapeutic stretch? Prioritize taking time (even a couple minutes a day) to give yourself these benefits. After all, self-love is making space for self-nurturing activities that improve your life in general.

Researchers find exercise helps other healthy habits stick! Click To Tweet
  1. Stop Comparing Yourself!

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When it comes to self-love, accepting and honouring yourself, just as you are is imperative. This means silencing your inner critic and noticing the common desire to compare. After all, this often paralyzes positive change and leaves you feeling inadequate.


One of my clients found her inner critic was so boisterous that it made it challenging to stick to any new, healthy routines. She would start packing lunches for her children, then she would compare her lunches to the Pinterest mom blogger and say that her lunches were “not good enough”. Unfortunately, her new lunch-making habit would then end with a feeling of defeat. This is also known as the “all or nothing mentality” where we attempt perfection or we want to give up. You can read more about how to over-come all or nothing mental sabotage here . When standing up to your inner critic, remember that it will never inspire change. The inner critic stifles change and immobilizes. It gets you caught in a negative cycle where you will never be “good enough”.

Remember, your inner critic will never inspire positive change! Click To Tweet

Instead, stop comparing yourself and focus on developing a deeper sense of appreciation for yourself and the changes you are already making. This practice mentally shifting builds self-love. Congratulate yourself and celebrate! This is not easy work to make lifestyle improvements. Catch that inner critic (we all have one) and silence it. Then, surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you.

Learn how to silence your inner critic 2 improve #SelfLove! Click To Tweet

Create Health Non-Negotiables

When prioritizing yourself and building greater self-love, it is important to create boundaries to create a healthy routine. Try coming up with a list of healthy parameters. This way, no matter how busy, you can practice keeping your self-nurturing activities sacred.

Postive vibe

Andrea’s ‘Lifestyle Non-Negotiables’:

  1. Have three meals a day (even if very busy or ‘out and about’)
  2. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night
  3. Aim to have convenient, healthy meal options available. For example, packing snacks for between clients, batch-cooking for easy re-heat meal options or stocking up on basics for times where groceries are running low.
  4. Make time for regular exercise as a way of increasing productivity and mood boosting.
  5. Plan a “free day” once a week for down-time.

Andrea D'Ambrosio

Bottom Line:

This Valentine’s Day, increase your self-love. Remember that self-care is not selfish. Making your needs top priority allows you to be your happiest, best self for all others in your life. Start by listening to your body and responding with what your body needs. Exercise from a place of enjoyment and allow yourself the chance to say no when you feel tired. Last, stop comparing yourself and this will help you keep up amazing new habits.

Now’s your turn, folks! How do you practice self-care? How does self-love impact your diet and/or nutrition? Any favourite activities to fill ‘your cup’?


Ps. If you are looking for more ideas, check out my two part blog series where I interview some of my dietitian colleagues for how they incorporate self-care!  10 Dietitians Share their Wellness Habits {pt. 1} and Dietitians Get Personal on their Physical Activity.

self love is not selfish