Making a Habit of Sustaining Yourself
Among the many things I had to learn as an adult, being kind to myself was the hardest to get used to. At one point in life, I realised how the act of taking care of yourself doesn’t come naturally, that you grow to develop certain mechanisms just to recognise simple things that your body tells you it needs.
You would think that warmth and food are basic enough needs that you would be able to provide it for yourself whenever it was asked for. But it wasn’t until you get too cold or too hungry that you act upon these requests. Of course, by then, you would have felt cold sores creeping in your body from shivering too much, or that hunger has created a headache that made it difficult to stand up and feed yourself.
Why is it that we deny ourselves basic needs, that we ignore distress signals our own body sends out until the very last minute?
Why is it difficult to trust your own body when it’s saying something about what your body needs to survive?
Maybe because up until the moment you are actually living on your own, you are lucky enough to be someone’s child. Maybe you have had the privilege of being fed for and cared for, and that food was readily available throughout the house, and that you can eat easily at any moment of the day without ever having the chance to feel hungry.
Maybe you’ve lived in a tropical country your whole life, taking the heat and warmth for granted. Maybe they were never a part of your means of survival until you’ve lived on your own for the first time as a young adult in a country that has four seasons, and turning on the heater would mean less money for you to spend in a month.
Maybe, as a rite of passage for a young woman, you have made it a habit to deny yourself food as an element of basic need and comfort.
Or, perhaps, it is the period of your youth, of being a 20-something, fresh graduate, feeling fearless and invincible in your first job that you disregard the normal functions of the body. Being as young as I was then, I didn’t want to be seen as weak, or that I was ignorant enough to think that in the possibility of asking for food or for warmth. It seemed like as if I was asking for ‘too much’.
Being older, knowing better, I have thought a lot about the way my younger self would deny my body simple comforts. As if by wearing extra layer of clothes or socks or nourishing myself with food, I was luxuriating, being lazy, and that I’d get carried away in giving myself too much of a good thing.
Feeding yourself became an affirmation and measurement of adulthood not only because it signifies your financial independence — that you are no longer dependent on or burdening another adult figure to give you life sustenance — but also because it shows that you have enough sense and judgment to be kind and caring toward yourself.
Eventually, cooking for yourself will become more than just about survival, but rather, one of the best experiences of living alone, a source of contentment and satisfaction.
You listen to your body by cooking things your body is craving for — and when you hear the word ‘crave’, the first thing that comes to mind is always ‘indulgence’, but I learned that it isn’t always so. My body also craves what it needs — vegetables and fruits and less sugar and protein and also, carbs.
Buying food for myself, I have discovered no matter how few the items I shopped, I can still make two portions of dinner.
Sometimes I ate it all at once, other times, I stopped myself, putting the rest in Tupperware containers and storing it in the refrigerator.
This was the moment that I realised I have become ‘one of those adults’ with Tupperware containers. But it doesn’t matter, because when I come home tired, I’ll open the fridge and feel jubilant at the thought of being an adult with leftovers.
That is the only thing I have to do at the end of a tiring day: move the leftovers from the container onto a plate, put it into a microwave, and in two minutes, I’ll get what my body needs: a warm meal.