Can Your Food Make You Smile? The Happiness-Plate Connection.
June 28, 2013
Want to feel more happiness and inspire your health? Start with your plate.
Evidence proves that what you feed your body, you feed your brain and your positive emotions. Plus, your meal could inspire other people’s eating habits.
I recall a time on an annual holiday with my sister Valerie. We are both devout vegetarians, Ukrainian, and deeply passionate about our food. So much so, that we actually plan our next meal while we are eating! Just as we were about to feast on one of our creations, a couple who was staying at the same condo resort as us walked by our patio table and abruptly stopped to stare at our colourful plates. “Wow, that food looks a-mazing,” then jokingly added, “care to share?” During the rest of our holiday, the same couple kept remarking on our meals and how we inspired them to eat more vegetables; this was not an uncommon experience for me.
I have shared the plant-based love through speaking, diet, health, and fitness consulting, “conversation” dinner parties, and while catering lifestyle programs at my lifestyle studio. Repeatedly (hundreds of times) I have heard the comment, “This is so inspiring!” I eventually began to realize how food could directly inspire happiness. I also noticed those same conversations were not happening at the drive-thru. In fact, a 2009 report called, Changing Diets, Changing Minds, by the Mental Health Foundation links depression with junk food and diets lacking essential nutrients.
Four Ways Your Food Can Inspire Happiness:
1. Choose foods that you respect, and that respect you and the planet. Think plant-based, fresh, colourful, and organic for your plate. Even breakfast can include these fresh foods; goodbye bacon and eggs, hello fresh fruit topped with chia or hemp seeds, or a power-filled green smoothie. The latter food respects your body by feeding you life-enhancing nutrients beyond calories or taste. You will actually feel the respect. Furthermore, plant-based foods respect our planet and all living beings.
2. Eat foods that are proven to cause physical happiness. All vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes contain natural mood-lifters! Organic greens, such as kale and spinach, are packed full of “happy nutrients” including folic acid, which promotes healthy red blood cells and a strong immune system. Or get peeling with a banana - filled with potassium and B vitamins - for energy, digestion and a healthy nervous system. Bananas also promote healthy cell renewal, which is important for your skin, hair and nails. Research shows that a B vitamin deficiency can lead to feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. After you have your banana fill, get a bit nutty with a few walnuts or chia seeds to top up your omega 3 fatty acids for another brain boost. Research also shows that the polyphenols and antioxidants in walnuts help strengthen neural connections, improving your memory, organizational and math skills, as well as your puzzle-solving abilities. These foods actually help you to feel, look, and be happy! To learn more about promoting a healthy brain, I encourage you to read Dr. Neal Barnard’s bestseller, “Power Foods for the Brain”.
3. Drink and be happy. Um, not that kind of bevie. Green is the new black. Aside from green smoothies, the other green is matcha tea, otherwise known as the “king of green teas”. Matcha, unlike other green teas, is not just steeped leaves that you drink the liquid from, but rather the whole leaf. It is an ancient elixir that has been used by Buddhist monks for centuries to calm the mind during meditation. Matcha is rich in L-theanine, a mood-enhancing, rare amino acid that actually promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by acting upon the brain’s functioning. Why not begin the day with a matcha and a Buddha-full smile after a morning meditation or yoga? I recommend DoMatcha brand  which can be found at most natural food stores.
4. Be present with your plate. Think “food yoga” and begin a union of connection with your food. Light a candle or sit quietly for a few moments before you eat, feeling gratitude for your food’s life-sustaining nutrients. Feel a calmness and peace while you chew it, connect with it, and experience it.
So, if you want more happiness in your life, adopt these awesome habits. I know it works, without a doubt, because I have experienced it personally, and witnessed hundreds who have done the same. You will begin to smile more, which in turn will inspire others; contagiousness is guaranteed.
Laura Simonson is a healthy living expert, consultant, speaker, entrepreneur, and founder of Indogo – Unleash Change and Modern Vegan Family, Don’t Forget Fido. At the forefront of the wellness and vegetarian movement and since the mid 1990’s, Laura has created life-changing programs and inspiring events for thousands of people. Her passion towards life, food, spirituality and now health for dogs, is contagious, which she delivers through high impact coaching, consulting and speaking, positively changing lives for everyone and their dog. Furthermore, Laura, along with an extraordinary team of experts and change-makers, have gathered to create the first brand of its kind to produce, distribute, and market; plant-based, vegan, organic canine foods and supplements supported by powerful, inclusive education and communities for everyone and their dog.