My Feel Good Bowl

October 17, 2016

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.

Heidi xo

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  • Marina October 17, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    As always, awesome post!
    I’ve had my struggles with intuitive eating, having an eating disorder throughout my teens and early twenties, thinking I was eating healthy because I wasn’t allowing myself desserts or “unclean” foods.
    Nowadays, being 6 months pregnant, I am trying hard to let go of those tendencies, and truly listen to my body. It’s been hard, with this increased hunger because of a growing baby, but it’s also nice to just allow myself a piece of cake every day, or a cookie, extra snack, or a bigger chunk of cheese in my sandwich. Some people may think I don’t eat healthy, because of those sweets, but for me, this is the healthiest thing to do, without restriction, without judgment and hatred towards my body and its wishes.

    I love eating those bowls like the one in your post. Bunch of veggies, some grains, some protein… You can make them different every time, and it’s always delicious and makes you feel great 🙂 Specially if there is some sweet potato and avocado involved 😉

    • Avril October 17, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Have to reply – I’ve just come through something pretty much the same – anorexia to pregnancy – its sooo hard to let go. Try to give yourself a free pass for the pregnancy(at least ) and as long as you breastfeed (if you can). I got through by doing it for my baby. Bub needed what my body was asking for while I was pregnant – if that was a salad sandwich or a kit kat and its all ok because you need the energy to grow a healthy little person and stay healthy yourself for them so you can look after them.
      It’s so so complicated isn’t it?
      Just well done and good luck and hugs

      • Heidi October 18, 2016 at 8:59 am

        Loads of love to you, gorgeous lady. Now to continue that kindness to yourself, because bub will never ever stop benefiting from that x

      • Marina October 18, 2016 at 5:45 pm

        Than you Avril!
        It is hard to let go, but I guess our love for our babies can help us overcome those struggles. At least I hope so.

    • Heidi October 18, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Hi Marina. Congratulations on your pregnancy! How exciting. Well done in listening to your body and giving it what it needs, without restriction, judgement or hatred to your body, as you say. Yes! Such a big deal. Well done! X

      • Marina October 18, 2016 at 5:48 pm

        Thank you Heidi!
        I love reading your posts, they are truly inspiring!

  • Rachel October 17, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Hi Heidi, this is such a great post and good timing for me. I have just had a baby and haven’t been looking after myself properly so have hit a bit of a physical and mental wall. I am working on making sure I am fuelling my body and taking care of it with what I eat. This post is so helpful! Thankyou 🙂

    • Heidi October 18, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Oh man, that physical and mental wall is so easy to hit if you’re not taking care of yourself! Love to you and congratulations! x

  • Cate October 17, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    I’ve had this dilemma with salmon! Almost impossible to find local non-farmed salmon, fresh or tinned. I buy the John West Alaskan brand because it’s wild caught and sustainable (gets the Greenpeace 5 star rating), plus my mum’s friend works for them in a safety/inspection role and says their Thai canning factories are immaculate 🙂

    • Heidi October 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

      Ace, thanks Cate. From my research I was pretty encouraged but you never do fully know…that is great news! Thanks for letting me know x

  • Conor October 17, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Good tip Cate! I always avoid John West due to the Thailand processing, but maybe will give it a go after all. It was a very sad day for me when I read up on the sustainability issues of Australian farmed salmon, not to mention the fact that the Australian farms use chicken offcuts to feed the salmon (better from a sustainability viewpoint but so completely wrong from a species and nutrition perspective), and that farmed salmon is much lower in Omega 3, which lets face it is one of the biggest reasons we all buy it.

    • Heidi October 18, 2016 at 9:01 am

      It’s really not great, hey Conor? Yes the two brands I link to are the ones I am happy with at the moment. Gotte get onto sardines too! x

  • annie October 19, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Your feel good bowl resembles mine quite closely. I’m currently 8 months pregnant with my third babe and having a hard time finding food that makes me feel good in my body as well as my mind. With the limited stomach space, heartburn, and anxiety about food (struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade) it’s tough to find a meal that leaves me feeling light and satisfied. I’ve turned to sweet potatoes, eggs, tinned fish, and bananas… oh and cheese. Lots of cheese! I’ve made my way through dozens of your posts over the past few days and am inspired, encouraged, and happy reading your take on food, mothering, and joyfulness. Thanks for this post and your openness and honesty. I feel like I just sat and had a convo over tea with you 🙂

    • Heidi November 6, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Annie! What a sweet comment, thank you. Getting close now, how exciting. All the best to you. I hope you have many feel good bowls in your future once your little one arrives x

  • laurasmess October 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I am seriously loving canned fish in olive oil at the moment. And boiled eggs with mustard. Just can’t get enough. I’m pretty certain it must be an intuitive body-requirement thing as you’ve mentioned because I always thought that I didn’t like eggs much (all of the #yolkporn stuff just made me screw my nose up) and then… wham! Every damn day. Ha.

    I love the way you embrace balance, self-love and nurturing of the body and mind through food. This is a gorgeous post (despite you writing it in the midst of being sick, you poor love) and all of the points resound in my own mind too. These sorts of feel-good bowls are my go-to when I arrive late home from work and need to feed myself and Aaron. We’ve been calling them ‘plate-salads’, stuff that I assemble for both of us with a tall glass of milk or hot tea before we sit down and watch something on Netflix. My latest additions always incorporate some broccoli or garlicky roasted Brussels sprouts with a hunk of cheddar, smoked almonds or seeds and some canned fish. I must try and track down that Good Fish brand (haven’t seen it here in WA yet). Hope you’re feeling better lovely xx

    • Heidi November 6, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Mmmmm roasted brussels sprouts – they sound divine!! Thanks for the love, sweet lady. I hope you are well in your corner of the world too xx

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