Feed Your Kneads

Healthy Fare for Body & Mind

By Tera Johnson-Swartz

If you have a high volume of clients in your practice, you can surely relate to finding yourself exhausted and hungry by the end of the day. Let’s face it: back-to-back massages can zap every ounce of emotional and physical energy right out of even the most vivacious practitioner.

One of the key elements in MT self-care should be nourishing ourselves with healthy food and drinks to keep our stamina as supportive as the services we provide. However, sometimes we slack off and indulge in the things that do the exact opposite, leaving us lethargic, malnourished, and even downright cranky!
When we look at our profession, we strive to offer healthy, meaningful exchanges with our guests; with that in mind, what we put into our bodies should be equally healthy and meaningful. Here are some tips to feed your body and mind during those busier days.

Best Drink in the House
We all know water is the ideal choice for hydration. We also know we are able to gulp greater amounts of it if it is kept at room temperature. Yet, we still tend to stray away from our best choice to guzzle sodas, caffeinated tea and coffee, and other less-than-healthy alternatives. Sometimes, all it takes is a little change in the appearance of water to turn it into a new and delicious beverage option. Below are some quick recipes to transform your standard tap or bottled water into an exotic, refreshing drink:
• Cucumber Crush—Chop quarter-inch circles of an entire cucumber and drop them into your gallon pitcher. Fill with water and leave to infuse. When your desired taste is reached, strain, pour, and enjoy.
• Mini Mojito—Add five quartered limes and 1/8 cup of fresh, whole mint leaves to a 1-gallon pitcher. If you’d like to add a drop or two of stevia extract for a sweeter taste, do so, and then fill the pitcher with water. Leave the mixture to blend. When your desired flavor combination is reached, strain, pour, and enjoy.
• StrawBasil Splash—Drop a cup of freshly rinsed and quartered strawberries into a 1-gallon pitcher. Add 3–4 fresh, whole basil leaves and fill with water. Leave overnight for a stronger blend or just a few hours to capture the hint of the combined flavorings. Strain, pour, and enjoy.

Food Kneads
Snacks or quick finger foods are almost a necessity when you have only a 10–15-minute turnaround between clients. While the initial thought of snagging a protein or granola bar may seem like the only available option, we sometimes forget all of the sugar and processed ingredients most of these quick, go-to options contain. Here are some great alternatives that provide a balance of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates to keep your body satisfied until you toss your last set of sheets into the laundry basket.

• Wrap It Up—If you know your day is going to be packed full, take the time to make a little bag of grab-and-go snacks. One option to include is a healthy wrap. Using your favorite tortilla as a base, spread some hummus, a couple slices of provolone cheese, slivered pieces of avocado, spinach leaves, and, if you’re feeling daring, some thinly sliced apple pieces. Roll it up and cover it with foil so you can peel and eat as you go. The cheese and avocado provide a healthy base of protein and fats to keep you feeling full, while the spinach and hummus add a crunchy, creamy texture.
• Go Nuts—Trail mix can be a saving grace in balancing sweet and salty cravings. There are so many different combinations I couldn’t even begin to narrow down my top choices to just a few. Health food stores and large chain grocers offer a wide variety of options that you can mix and match. My only recommendation would be to abstain from picking up mixes with chocolates or candies in them. Keeping your sugar intake at a minimum and your protein levels high will balance your blood sugars during a hectic day, so grabbing a handful of trail mix with chocolate pieces would likely bring your sugar rush crashing down right in the middle of your session.
• Quick Grabs—We’ve all got our stashes of just-in-case treats, so why not set the tone for your quick grabs with what is best for you and your body. If you’re a carb craver and need them to sustain yourself, keep a stash of pretzels and almond butter on hand. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, try keeping some grapes in your freezer. If you’re a dairy devil, keep a steady supply of cheese sticks or plain yogurt nearby, and if you’re a liquid dieter, make a big batch of smoothies and freeze them in individual containers to grab and let thaw during a session so you’ve got something to look forward to before your next client arrives.
With these tips and treats in your back pocket, you can take the time to feed your body and mind with the food and nutrients it needs. Sometimes a little bite of sustenance can feel just as gratifying to our tired bodies as the very massage we’re giving. So, go forth and feed your kneads!

DIY Trail Mix
Makes 3½ cups
It’s easy to create your own custom trail mix by perusing your grocery store’s bulk bins.
1 cup shelled almonds, cashews, pistachios, or walnuts (or any combination)
1 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
½ cup flaxseed
1 cup dried fruit: banana chips, cherries, cranberries, dates, or raisins (or any combination)
Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.
Recipe courtesy Mary Barthelme Abel

Quick & Easy Fruit Smoothie
Makes 1 smoothie
1 cup low-fat or fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen mixed fruit
1 banana
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
½ cup orange or apple juice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Add more juice if necessary for desired consistency.
Recipe courtesy Mary Barthelme Abel

Tera Johnson-Swartz has been a licensed and insured massage therapist for nearly 10 years. Studying under some of the top health-care practitioners in the country, she has developed techniques specifically beneficial for pain relief and overall well-being. Beyond massage, she is a freelance writer, independent childbirth and lactation educator, health educator and fitness instructor, and celebrates her freedom of self-employment with her husband, Michael, and their two young children, Livingston and Bess, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Contact her at tera@organicknead.com.