Why Nutrition and Self-Care Go Hand-in-Hand as told by Ramona Navarro, founder of Healthy Leaf
Words by Lyndsey Grima
Ramona Navarro, founder of Healthy Leaf spills the tea on why nutrition is the foundation of our physical and mental well-being.
In our fast-paced modern lives, taking care of ourselves often takes a backseat to our busy schedules and endless responsibilities. We tend to prioritise work, family, and social obligations, neglecting the most fundamental aspect of our well-being: nutrition. However, it is crucial to recognise that nutrition and self-care are intricately intertwined. When we prioritise our nutritional needs and embrace self-care practices, we enhance our overall health, happiness, and quality of life.
Nutrition forms the foundation of our physical and mental well-being. The food we consume provides our bodies with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for optimal functioning. A balanced diet fuels us with energy, strengthens our immune system, and supports healthy brain function. Without proper nutrition, our bodies become vulnerable to various health issues, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders.
Self-care, on the other hand, refers to the intentional practice of activities that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It encompasses a broad range of activities such as exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, relaxation techniques, and personal grooming. Self-care is not a luxury; it is a necessity for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life.
Ramona Navarro, founder of Healthy Leaf, a local brand that creates natural, healthy and delicious on-the-go snacks, started her journey when she was 17 years old. ‘I started really taking an interest in cooking and the ingredients used to make wholesome dishes. I started focusing on whole, natural ingredients, and right away, I felt a change, not just physically but also mentally. I felt great after eating a meal that was fully loaded with nutritious ingredients and that’s where the passion began!’
When we prioritise our nutrition, we are essentially practising self-care. By nourishing our bodies with wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, we provide the fuel necessary for optimal physical and mental functioning. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can boost our immune system, increase energy levels, improve cognitive function, and promote a positive mood. Proper nutrition also plays a vital role in weight management, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and promoting longevity.
When curating her products, Ramona places an immense emphasis on using the most natural and clean ingredients possible in her products.
‘There is so much noise out there, so much false advertising that things are healthy, when in fact, they would be far from it. I want to keep the ingredients stripped back to their real and natural form. Ingredients such as nuts and dates feature a lot in my products. For example, our latest nourish bars contain only four to five ingredients - minimal ingredients but offering great benefits!’
In addition to providing our bodies with the necessary nutrients, prioritising nutrition is an act of self-love and self-respect. It is a way of honouring and caring for ourselves on a fundamental level. When we choose to eat nutritious foods, we are acknowledging that our bodies deserve the best fuel possible. This mindset shift cultivates a positive relationship with food and encourages healthier eating habits.
‘Taking care and being aware of what goes into our bodies is the biggest form of self-care’, says Ramona. ‘We must take care of our body by giving it the right foods to make us feel great. We have one body that needs to last us a lifetime so we must take care of it and value it!’
Moreover, nutrition and self-care are mutually reinforcing. When we prioritise self-care practices, we are more likely to make conscious food choices. Engaging in activities such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress reduction techniques enhances our body awareness and mindfulness. As a result, we become more attuned to our body's signals and are better equipped to differentiate between genuine hunger and emotional cravings.
Ramona's favourite self-care practice is going on a 30-minute daily walk. ‘It’s impressive how much it benefits my mind. I instantly start to think more clearly and feel more relaxed! I also work out a few times a week with a trainer. I lead a very busy lifestyle but I try my best to make time for myself’.
Furthermore, self-care practices can help us develop a healthier relationship with food. Stress, anxiety, and emotional distress often lead to unhealthy eating patterns such as emotional eating or relying on comfort foods. By engaging in self-care activities, we can effectively manage stress, reduce emotional eating, and develop alternative coping mechanisms. This, in turn, supports a balanced and mindful approach to nutrition.
Incorporating self-care into our daily routines can also positively impact our eating behaviours. Taking time for ourselves allows us to slow down, savour our meals, and practice mindful eating. By being fully present and aware of our eating experience, we can listen to our body's hunger and satiety cues, make healthier food choices and avoid overeating.
Lastly, the benefits of the symbiotic relationship between nutrition and self-care extend beyond physical health. When we prioritise self-care and nourish our bodies, we experience an overall improvement in our well-being. Enhanced physical health boosts our confidence, self-esteem, and body image. Feeling good about ourselves positively affects our mental health, leading to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.
As a parting note, we asked Ramona to give us an exclusive recipe that she LOVES to whip up on a self-care day, so here it is:
‘This is far from anything fancy, but it is a miracle worker that, I feel, not a lot of people know about! Prepare a glass full of water and add 1/2 a tablespoon of chia seeds & some fresh lemon juice. Wait for the chia seeds to expand. This should take around 10 mins and then drink this special concoction. I love doing this in the morning as my daily drink. It is the best way to add fibre and flush out unnecessary toxins!’
Check out Healthy Leaf on their socials and treat yourself to their healthy and oh-so-yummy snacks we can't get enough of.