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Total Mealtimes—Feeding Body, Mind, and Spirit

©Photo by DWilliam/Pixabay
©Photo by DWilliam/Pixabay

The joy of a delicious meal can be undermined by feeling tired, feeling down, or rushed when mealtime rolls around. But these times are also the best to prepare a fresh and healthy meal, as good food can improve feelings of well-being.

As an essential daily activity, eating meals should ideally involve a consistent diet of all-natural, delicious, and nutritious foods. The total experience of mealtime can foster better mental, physical, and spiritual health, inspire love, gratitude, and peace, and raise consciousness through intention and connection.

Elevating ‘Mood’ with High-Quality Foods

While it is common knowledge that spending time in nature and in positive relationships can elevate “mood” and feelings of well-being, it is also true that eating a “high frequency” meal of healthy, natural, unprocessed food can help do the same.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of foods to choose from that can help elevate one’s “vibes”:

Pea sprouts are rich in antioxidants and can help keep blood sugar levels low.  ©Photo by Anna Nekrashevich/Pexels
Pea sprouts are rich in antioxidants and can help keep blood sugar levels low. ©Photo by Anna Nekrashevich/Pexels

Sprouts and microgreens.

These tiny germinating plants contain many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients and will grow on a windowsill. It’s easy to experiment with the textures and flavors in salads, stir fries, sandwiches, as a garnish, or blended into smoothies. For beginners, the simplest sprouts to grow are alfalfa, broccoli, radish, and mung beans, with snow peas, amaranth, wheatgrass, clover, sunflower, and onions great items to grow with more experience.


Vegetables.

Whether grown at home or sourced from local organic growers, vegetables are powerhouses for both nutrition and raising feelings of well-being. Vegetables—such as broccoli, beetroot, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes—are superb when eaten raw as snacks, in salads, or juiced with other fruits and vegetables. Stir frying or steaming are the healthiest cooking methods; just avoid cooking them until they change color as this reduces their potency.


Leafy greens.

Spinach, endive, arugula, dandelion, and collard greens are all excellent additions to smoothies, juices, salads, and sandwiches. But kale tops the list as a nutritional powerhouse with powerful antioxidant properties.

Arugula is known for its antioxidants and glucosinolates.  ©Photo by aomorikuma/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Arugula is known for its antioxidants and glucosinolates. ©Photo by aomorikuma/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fresh berries.

Organic strawberries, blueberries, goji berries, and cranberries are delicious examples that can be used in smoothies, salads, or eaten straight up like nature’s candy. Tibetan goji berries and Amazonian acai may only be available in dehydrated or frozen form.


Fresh fruits.

Papaya, kiwi, peaches, apricots, bananas, pomegranates, dragon fruit, pineapple, mango, and citrus are all beneficial to the body and soul. Look for sun-ripened, organic, non-GMO, locally sourced fruits. They are best stored in a cool, dark area, not in a refrigerator.

Fermented foods.

Try kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, or kombucha.

Tempeh is a type of fermented soybean cake.  ©Photo by Ocdp/Wikimedia (CC0 1.0)
Tempeh is a type of fermented soybean cake. ©Photo by Ocdp/Wikimedia (CC0 1.0)

Herbs and spices.

Plant-based fats.

In reasonable quantities, fats in raw hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, coconut, and olives are beneficial.


Dates are high in fiber and antioxidants.  ©Photo by Antoni Shkraba/Pexels
Dates are high in fiber and antioxidants. ©Photo by Antoni Shkraba/Pexels

Sweeteners.

The least-processed forms of sweeteners include honey, maple syrup, and dates.


Less-healthy Choices?


Just as some foods may elevate feelings of well-being, others may have an opposite effect.


Caffeinated tea or coffee.

To maintain high energy levels naturally, try potassium-rich foods like bananas, avocados, and whole eggs instead. In addition, electrolytes can boost energy levels and are readily available in watermelon, pomegranates, and oranges.


Preserves and jams.

These cooked products are not as potent as the original products. Try mashing actual fruit instead of opening a jar.


Animal products.

The best choices are likely to be grass-fed beef or bison, wild salmon, or free-range poultry. Eggs should come from pastured poultry.


Just as some foods may elevate feelings of well-being, others may have an opposite effect.

Highly processed food products.

The list of products generally deemed less healthy include those that have a long shelf life, come in a packet, or are ready-to-eat. Some have additives (artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives). Others contain hydrogenated or trans fats, margarine, or lard.


‘Vibes’ From Beyond the Food Itself


While the quality of the food plays a huge role in feelings of well-being, there are other factors to consider at mealtimes. Eating is as much about nourishing the soul as it is about feeding the body, so all the following aspects of a meal contribute to “vibes”:


  1. “One of the best things you can do to raise your vibe is to develop a healthy relationship with food,” says Cate Ritter, wellness coach and functional nutritionist in Oregon, USA. “Think beneficial thoughts.”

  2. Bless food by being grateful; many meal prayers include giving thanks for the bounty. Life coach Tony Robbins said, “You can’t feel fear or anger while feeling gratitude at the same time.” If there are any negative emotions at the table, turn them around by finding gratitude in the food, the table, the people, the plate, or anything immediate.

  3. Imagine each bite of a food as nourishing for the body; eat mindfully, being aware of the colors, textures, aromas, and flavors. When one feels present in the moment, the nervous system calms and there is a feeling of greater peace.

  4. Have a dedicated space, preferably a table, for meals. “Eating around the table challenges your busy schedule. It takes a stand against feelings of stress and anxiety, and instead, puts your basic needs first and foremost. It’s a time to take a break from your daily responsibilities and focus on taking care of your body, your mind, and your relationships,” according to Chopra.com.

  5. It’s impossible to eat mindfully while using technology and multitasking. Phones, computers, TVs, and even books and newspapers can be left out of the dining room.

  6. Make the dining room a beautiful place with colors that are calming or rejuvenating, bring in natural lighting or use bright lighting. Use the “good” dishes often, and set the table with intention, even if dining alone.

  7. Practitioners of Feng Shui recommend keeping the dining room clean and tidy. They also recommend light from candles as it emits positive energy. A mirror in the dining room can also amplify natural light and give the illusion of more space. Finally, live plants naturally bring high vibes to the room.


Having a vibrant dining room environment can make all the difference during mealtimes.  ©Photo by Jonathan Borba/Pexels
Having a vibrant dining room environment can make all the difference during mealtimes. ©Photo by Jonathan Borba/Pexels

Fresh, organic, raw fruits and vegetables are great additions to any diet, and the more often they are included in meals, the more desirable they will become, thanks to the natural high and energy that they provide.


Spinach Avocado Salad with Berries

Recipe by Nora Rusev from Savory Nothings


A simple but stunning salad you can whip up in no time! Have it as a side or as a healthy meal, either way it's one you'll come back to again and again.


Ingredients

For the dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 1/8 teaspoon dried garlic powder

  • Salt and pepper

For the salad:
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds

  • 10 oz bag of baby spinach

  • 1/2 pound strawberries washed, hulled, and sliced

  • 1 cup raspberries washed and gently dried

  • 1 cup blueberries washed and gently dried

  • 1 large sliced avocado

Instructions

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.

To make the salad, gently toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl with the prepared dressing. Serve immediately.


Notes

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a meal.


Nutrition

Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 604mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 6665IU | Vitamin C: 64.7mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2.9mg

 

*Julie Peterson is a freelance journalist based in the Midwest region of the US who has written hundreds of articles on natural approaches to health, environmental issues, and sustainable living.



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