I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about their feel good foods. What foods give them the glow, help them thrive and allow them to be their best selves. These are foods that gift you energy, a clear mind and a flowing, well-functioning body, and the cool thing is, this is different for everyone. Some feel amazing eating pasta, others feel crap eating dairy, legumes are power food for some while others cannot even look at them. There’s more to it than just food alone, of course, our lifestyle (stress! exercise! sleep!) plays a huge part in how we feel and function. But I like to start by thinking about food and how it makes us feel.
Most of us know our bodies work well when we eat vegetables, and indeed along with veggies there are a few well-known “healthy” foods that research shows many benefit from including in our diets – oily fish, extra virgin olive oil, fermented foods, etc. But “feel good foods” can also include cake and other stuff that is not given superfood status, yet is important all the same. Tiramisu is most certainly on my feel good food list. However because of cultural diet rules and words like “clean eating” (which encourages all or nothing thinking and assigns a moral value to food, leaving people guilt-ridden any time they deviate), it can be hard to allow these foods into our lives and take them for what they are – something to be enjoyed in a quantity and frequency that truly makes us feel good – and then move on. Because our food choices are largely influenced by external forces (which often come in the form of people who have found something that works for them and who simply want others to feel similarly wonderful by following their path) it can be tricky to hear what our bodies are telling us. But by working on tuning out these voices and diet rules, we can quiet the noise and listen to our bodies…we can hear what it is telling us and figure out what our own, individual feel good foods are in our current season of life (because it does change)… and we can honour what our body is telling us and eat accordingly. It’s pretty neat.
Eating intuitively in this way may not happen quickly or easily, but if you listen to your body and act with kindness, you will get there. With self-love and honesty, you will get to that happy space of trusting your body to tell you what you need without any bullshit clouding the message…and then you will go forth and eat in a way that makes you feel your best, spinach and doughnuts included. Sometimes we may need a little help listening to what our bodies are telling us. Sometimes we may need a little encouragement in trying new foods or preparing produce that our body will likely take a shine to (veggies! sardines! walnuts!) in ways that are inviting. Sometimes we may need advice on ways to eat intuitively while making sure you are eating in a balanced way for a happy body. Most of the time, though, we just need to trust and listen. And love, always and only and forever self-love.
In my current season of life, my ultimate feel good meal is an abundance bowl. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it reliably gives me energy and makes me feel amazing. Day-to-day, this is what my body needs. As a “work from home”, co-sleeping mum (who is functioning on broken sleep because my baby still wakes during the night), I find I need to pay particular attention to what I put in my body. I know the foods that make me thrive and I make it a priority to eat them. As part of my weekly meal prep, I ensure I have the components on hand to throw together this bowl of good. I’ve spoken about my everyday salads before, but here’s a specific recipe for you in case your feel good foods are similar to mine. It goes without saying, alter the components to suit your preferences, however I do encourage you to make sure your meals contain a happy blend of complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and veggies. Treating your body gently and respectfully in this way will help you glow and go!
My Feel Good Bowl
1 handful rocket
1/2 – 1 cup* cooked quinoa
1 cup (ish) steamed broccoli**
1 cup (ish) roasted sweet potato***
100g (1 small tin) canned fish in extra virgin olive oil****
1 handful toasted seeds (mix of sunflower seeds and pepitas)
1 handful fresh parsley
Dressing: a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of sea salt and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Additions: lentils/black beans or other legume, a drizzle of tahini, goats cheese, avocado and/or hummus – I add these based on availability and what I feel like. The above picture was my dinner last Friday night and at the time I was not 100% after having a virus, so my appetite was not where it usually is. Ordinarily I’d have at least drizzled some tahini, if not chosen a couple more additions.
Method: have all ingredients pre-made and assemble! Drizzle the dressing and dive in.
* quantity depends on my hunger level.
** Joan adores steamed broccoli, so I try to do a batch once or twice a week to have on hand for us both to snack on or eat at lunch.
*** sweet potato is one of my ultimate power foods. I just LOVE it.
**** I’ve done quite a bit of research on eating fish from a sustainability point of view. Oily fish is where it’s at, nutritionally, and then I try to buy wild caught instead of farmed. I also don’t want to spend heaps of money and I want to be conscious of the environment. Sardines are fabulous for all these reasons, and so I am trying to eat them more, however canned salmon that has been packed in extra virgin olive oil is my number one taste + nutrition preference. Good Fish is a my ultimate choice, however it’s not super easy to come across and it is expensive. I therefore don’t buy it all the time and instead compromise with this variety. John West seem to use wild Alaskan salmon which is then frozen and canned in Thailand before being shipped to us. Not ideal, I’d prefer to buy Australian, but I’m yet to find local salmon that isn’t farmed.