Frozen Soup & Stick Blenders… What they Taught Me about Self-Care

A few years back, I was attending a Universal Medicine course and was sharing accommodation with some fellow students.

One of the students was eating what looked like very tasty soup and I asked her where she bought it.

She told me she brought it with her from home. I looked at her quizzically and asked, “You travelled with soup?” “Yes,” she replied. She told me she always has some in her freezer and travels with it so that when she’s at her destination, she can eat something that is home-cooked and nourishing.

Well, you could you have knocked me down with a feather. I thought that was pretty strange. But when I thought about it a bit more, I could see the benefits of doing that as I have found myself at the mercy of what food is available nearby, and sometimes that’s only been a basic takeaway store or a 24/7 convenience store, where the food may not suit my dietary needs – or be a nourishing meal! And if truth be known, I have often used that excuse to eat food that I know is not good for me.

So I took that idea and when I next made soup, I prepared extra portions and had them in the freezer ready to take with me next time I travelled. When the time came to travel again I was prepared and I travelled with my frozen soup.

I thought I was pretty nifty. And my body thought I was pretty nifty too, as it liked my soup – it always felt good after eating it, like it had been taken care of. It did a little dance after eating it – almost imperceptible to the untrained eye, but it was there.

Little did I know that travelling with frozen soup would just be the beginning of my home-away-from-home food adventures.

A friend was attending a conference in Cairns and came to stay for two nights. When he arrived I saw that he had brought all of his meals to eat at home and at the conference. They were ready-made frozen meals with combinations of fish or lamb and vegies. I was again surprised at what someone was travelling with and whilst impressed, I was not sure that I was quite ready to make that kind of commitment. I still liked to eat out as well.

Another friend travels away for work, and was sharing with me that she had recently taken her stick-blender with her so she could have her smoothies for breakfast. It was another one of those moments where I was like – you travelled with what?

So when it came time for me to travel for a conference, I was not quite ready to travel with whole pre-prepared meals, but was up for travelling with my stick blender – my new companion. It felt good to pack it, like I was travelling with a good friend who knows how to look after me. Away we went and when we checked into the apartment, I unpacked my old companion – frozen soup – and my new one, the stick blender. I had checked that a supermarket was nearby before I left (loving the pre-travel care I was undertaking!), and went off to the supermarket to buy smoothie ingredients.

In the morning I made my smoothie. My body did another little dance – it liked these smoothies. My mind was a bit miffed as it wanted to eat the pork and eggs downstairs at the café but my body was going … oh yeah, I like those smoothies. I felt light, looked after, and ready for the day!

At the conference for lunch there was a mix-up with my pre-arranged dietary requirements, and I did not get what I ordered. I picked the bits I could eat, and left the rest. I felt no nourishment from what I ate and it left me feeling a bit tired.

That night I called into the supermarket and bought some lunch ingredients and made up a yummy lunch for the following day, plus enough for the plane trip on the way home – so I would not be limited by the food choices available at the airport food halls.

I really enjoyed eating my lunch, both at the conference and on the plane ride home, as not only was my lunch tasty and nourishing, it gave me an opportunity to take greater care of myself and to appreciate this moment of self-care.

I find travelling away from home can be a bit stressful, and so can attending conferences. I’ve often found the food at these events involves lots of carbs like sandwiches, muffins and sugary cakes, often leaving people really heavy and tired after eating them. Plus the venue often does not have natural light and can pack the delegates in, which can make me feel quite drained and exhausted.

I saw so clearly that bringing soup, making smoothies and preparing my food supported me in those environments to stay steady and clear so I could take in what was being presented, and also be present when engaging with my colleagues (and not slip into a food coma after eating – you know the one when you have eaten too much and cannot move or think!).

In all my previous travels, I have never taken this kind of care nor this level of responsibility before. I had always used the excuse that it’s too hard, or complicated, or I’m too busy (before or during the conference) to look after myself in this manner and so allowing myself to be at the mercy of what is being served around me. But the truth of the matter is that it is not that hard after all.

All it took was me being open to the inspiration that was around me, and taking a few steps to make it happen – like making sure I had prepped extra portions, that there was a small fridge and microwave/stove in the accommodation, letting the conference people know I will cater for myself, checking out where the local supermarket was, and most importantly packing my stick blender!

There have been a few trips since then, and I continue to look at how I can deepen my care for myself when I am away. It makes the world of difference to me – I feel much steadier, supported and ready for what is needed.

By Sarah Flenley, Woman and keen observer of life, Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia

Related Reading:
What’s all the Fuss about Self-Care?
When it Comes to Food – Let Your Body Speak

458 thoughts on “Frozen Soup & Stick Blenders… What they Taught Me about Self-Care

  1. While it may initially feel like a chore to be prepared in this way, it actually sets us up for a smoother ride and eliminates a whole host of complication that can enter when we are caught ‘off guard’ and then are at the whim of all that plays out when we have not laid a solid foundation upon which to move.

  2. So what is normal? I know I have thought things strange and now I happily choose them, there are too many to mention. But some would be eating egg white omelettes, broccoli for breakfast, or not drinking alcohol…However I know if we are open to life we are open to change our habits, and our normal can very easily become a new normal. This is a great reminder to be open and not closed minded to other ways of living…they may just suit us better.

    1. It is so great to break out of the bondage of what is touted as ‘normal’ and do what is true and works!

      1. I could not agree more Lyndy – so much of my life I have spent trying to do what is normal and be normal I lost sense of what I knew was true and also got extremely frustrated by life. It feels so much freer simply doing what you sense is true.

  3. I went away recently and approached this trip with your blog and the inspiration of your friends in mind. I took frozen soup I had made specifically for this reason and when I was at my destination simply added a couple of ingredients to it as support. The difference in my body was astounding. It was such a support. Food was waiting for me at the end of my day, I had breakfast if I felt like it and lunch ready without any stress. Well worth having a go with!

  4. Taking this level of care to prepare food for our day can seem daunting or too time consuming at first but once you try it even once you are likely to feel just how much it supports the flow of your day as well as your body.

  5. Thank you Sarah, I can really see the value in having these kind of food adventures, where there is opportunity to learn and develop stronger practices of self-care that can deeply support ones desired quality of everyday life.

  6. I wonder how often we blame the day for how we are feeling rather than the food we are eating. I can relate to the food coma you mention Sarah where we suddenly feel heavier and bloated and the mind is not as clear, but we don’t always relate it to the food we eat because there is often a delay between when we eat it and the heaviness we feel. Food plays a huge part in how we are during the day so it makes sense to take care and listen to the body and not over ride it for the sake of what we may see at the time as being convenient and less hassle.

    1. What a great point Jennym. You made me realise how so many of the things I eat, wear, the way I do my home, my hair, the way I write or work is all based upon inspiration from others! In that moment that I read your comment the whole world of interconnectedness was so alive and vibrating in my body. There is no individuality. What a myth that is!

  7. As you say Sarah – the body just loves it when we stop and feel into what will support us. Your blog is a wonderful wake up call as I have been putting off getting back on track with my diet using all kinds of excuses to delay. No more time for delay – simply enjoying each moment with my body.

  8. Yes, Sarah, taking those few extra steps to ensure that we feel supported and nurtured while travelling make all the difference, not in a controlling way, but with a joy that simply reflects to the world that love will not be compromised, no matter what the situation.

  9. This blog to me expresses the joy in supporting ourselves through the day in a world that doesn’t usually reflect loving yourself to the ninth degree. So whilst there are posters advertising all sorts of health related and beauty products they do so on the basis of improving oneself or finding a solution to an ailment whilst not communicating we are already amazing and this amazingness can be supported by simple things – like going for a walk at lunchtimes (taking a break at lunch time even to reconnect to oneself) and eating something nourishing. I’m not so hot on the food side of things but one thing is to not eat in front of the computer at work. Eating food I’ve prepared at home with a loving supporting energy reminds me of this being love during my day and not being distracted by all that goes on around me.

  10. ‘That night I called into the supermarket and bought some lunch ingredients and made up a yummy lunch for the following day, plus enough for the plane trip on the way home – so I would not be limited by the food choices available at the airport food halls’. Very good idea Sarah! A couple of years ago I was going down to Sydney to visit my daughter and leaving at 4pm. I knew that I would be there in time for a delicious dinner and so was only carrying water and a few nuts with me. The plane was delayed because of a huge weather thing coming and we were in the airport until 10pm that night and then shipped off to a hotel in town an hour’s drive away for 4 hours slept before coming back to get a plane. There was nothing in the airport I could eat, and nor could you get anyone to rustle up even an omelette with spinach because all the food was pre-cooked before it came into the cafes! Finally at the hotel the kitchen was closed, but I got onto room service and ordered tow poached eggs and spinach – I really enjoyed that. Needless to say I am more prepared now.

    1. I love that Lyndy. Not that you were caught without food, but that you were shown a whole new level of preparation! Then regardless of what happens, we know we are ready. A beautiful reminder – thank you.

  11. It comes down to the simplest things in our lives that support us the most. Whether it is with food being prepared in advance, having clothes on hand that will either keep us warm or dry, a tube of hand cream in our bag to soften dry hands or a glass or bottle of water always available. Being prepared for any eventuality that could potentially affect the immediate needs of our physical body means that we always feel supported energetically and are therefore more able to deal with situations that may come our way.

  12. The other day I had this situation too Sarah. Inspired by your words I prepared some yummy soup for my travels for work. Only when it came to the end I forgot I needed to freeze it – and so arrived at my destination with 6 tubs of off brocolli soup! I investigated cafes and nearby restaraunts but none of them offered food I felt that I needed. So I headed to the supermarket and with a few essential purchases (hello olive oil) whipped up a quick dish. I enjoyed it so much and so much more than any take away food, simply because I listened to my body and honoured it with what it likes to eat. So thank you Sarah for the inspiration here to give yourself that extra care, in a way that goes way beyond the food that we eat.

  13. I love being prepared especially when it comes to food and my body loves it too. I leave in the morning with my lunch bag and bottle of water ( and my teabags), and I know I am ready for all that the day will bring. Yesterday, I worked a 14 hour shift, and this morning I was still up at my usual time, (4ish) and without an alarm clock. Nourishing food lovingly prepared at home is an amazing support we can give to ourselves.

  14. A beautiful reflection and inspiration of taking care of yourself and your body in so many simple and loving ways and what a difference it makes. It can change how we feel about ourselves having taken care and the clarity of not eating whatever is on offer noting the lack of goodness and energy it comes with. If we all took food with us prepared lovingly with a clarity of what we are eating the difference it makes by reflection and the new normal way of being it would make is amazing to feel and could really make a difference to world health .

  15. Food is fuel, but it is not about filling our vehicle (our body) with what ever we want, the quality of that fuel matters. We can say when we are away, on the road lets have a fast food break, or a blow out on Friday night, but all of these choices stack up and our vehicle feels them. It copes with many of our selfish and indulgent choices but does it thrive and flourish which is a very different way of being. How we eat in all our days matters and that is why it is so lovely to provide supportive food, whether on the road or not that is nourishing and offers your body true care and support. 

  16. Love your blog, Sarah – it made me smile as I was on a day trip last week with the Managing Director of the company I work for, having been invited to make a presentation at a conference one of our clients was holding at a hotel. I had made a dairy and gluten free lunch request, but as usual, also packed some food of my own, just in case….! The hotel did indeed provide my requested lunch – sandwiches made with very plain gluten free bread and a slice of roast beef surrounded by limp looking lettuce and a sliced tomato (this was a 4* hotel). I haven’t eaten bread, gluten free or otherwise, for more than 10 years. I wouldn’t have found it as amusing as I did had I not taken the time and care to pack and bring my own lunch.

  17. I love how you have described the way the body responds to self-care Sarah, and when we appreciate the care we have taken to support ourselves we allow a deeper level of love to become our new foundation.

  18. I have been coming home late from work these past few weeks. When I get home I’m tired and cooking can feel like another thing to do, so this past weekend I cooked four meals and put them in the freezer. It feels very supportive to come home and know me or who evers turn it is to cook only has to prepare some veg to go with our dinner.

  19. This is super cool Sarah, I use to think that cooking your own food while you travelled was boring and that I wanted the excuse to constantly eat out. Honestly though, once you brake down this belief system you are free to enjoy both eating out and preparing your own meals. I remember when I went to Italy when I was in my early 20’s, we stayed in an apartment that had a kitchen, we had spent weeks trying to find good pizza and pasta at the restaurants and were really disappointed. Whilst staying at this apartment, we had access to a home kitchen, we shopped at the locally farmers markets and small supermarket and made the most amazing meal that we ate in Italy! I am not joking, the ingredients were so fresh, the meal was just stunning.

  20. It’s so simple isn’t it!… Travelling with a stick blender can change our whole work experience when we travel… Now how can I fit my wok and gas burner into my suitcase!

  21. Wow.. This is very inspiring Sarah, and so simple indeed! Taking care of ourselves is much more easy than sometimes we can imagine.

  22. It’s really worth taking care like this to be inspired by others and experiment with new things seeing how and if they feel true to us and help us to be more truly engaged and connected with what we’re doing and whoever we’re in touch with during the day.

  23. I always have frozen broths with broccoli in the freezer to support my gut when needed, so when a friend was recently admitted to hospital for gut issues it was ready for her without any time delay or effort… so simple and easy to do.

  24. I love how you were inspired by those around you, and so brought in more self-loving choices, ‘as not only was my lunch tasty and nourishing, it gave me an opportunity to take greater care of myself and to appreciate this moment of self-care.’

  25. I love how this is something that you developed over time and can keep refining according to new inspiration, experimentation and learning!

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