Two recent articles made me think about how to speak about the way we care for ourselves: “Diet Is a Noun” (David Katz, MD, Linked In, 8/16/19, accessed 8/23/19, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/diet-noun-david-l-katz-md-mph-facpm-facp-faclm/) and “Self-Care Is Not an Indulgence: It’s a Discipline” (Tami Forman, Forbes, 12/13/17, https://www.forbes.com/sites/tamiforman/2017/12/13/self-care-is-not-an-indulgence-its- adiscipline/?utm_source=FACEBOOK&utm_medium=social&utm_term=Malorie%2F#68 22a047fee0, accessed 8/23/19).
Katz asserts that “Diet is decocted to ‘dieting,’ and what should be a reference to a dietary pattern that constructs, nourishes, and sustains a lifetime of vitality is reduced to the hokey-pokey of fashion, fad, and folly. In and out. On and off. Loss and regain.” The way we look at food makes it a thing, an act of this or that, a good bet in the moment, be it saying no or yes to food.
My point in referencing Katz’s discussion of “diet” and “dieting” is to help you think about how you view eating. These days we call the continuous and steady attitude of eating to nourish and pleasure our bodies a “lifestyle.” But lifestyle doesn’t exactly capture how we want to view eating either because there are so many lifestyles to choose from. A better approach might be thinking of what the best way to eat is, in terms of when, what and how much food you want to consume that will help you—and the planet—thrive. That may sound like too much to ask for, but it’s the way of thinking that’s ideal.
Regarding Forman’s blog on self-care, I like to think of it not as something we impose on ourselves (which we might be likely to rebel against), but as a non-negotiable mindset that we consciously and intentionally choose a la “I will always do what’s best for myself.” So what if it takes time, bores me, puts others out, involves effort, means changing habits, is different than what others do, requires corralling my impulses and reactions, may at times feel selfish, defies the approval of others and, as Forman says, demands that we let “other people take care of themselves.”
Self-caring, which I prefer to self-care because the former sounds ongoing and the latter implies an act or event, means routines. For those of you who aren’t partial to them, ah, well, you’ll have to make peace with this conflict. Why not engage in activities you choose precisely because they’re how you show love to yourself? The ultimate question is whether you’d rather be bored with routines and proud of yourself or ashamed and unhealthy without them.