By Arielle Simone. Photography by Deun Ivory.
Remember the movie Soul Food? The traditional Sunday family dinners felt so relatable. It’s a reminder that food connects us with one another. It brings families, friends, and lovers together in harmony. Nurturing moments to share, to communicate, to laugh.
But let’s call it spade to spade: unhealthy foods makes us feel lousy. Toxic foods deplete our health, make us feel sluggish, and can often lead to depression, anxiety, and unhappiness. If it’s not good for our bodies, it's not good for our minds. Granted, eating is supposed to be enjoyable but I’m talking beyond temporary enjoyment like satisfying a craving. I’m talking about eating for joy. Joy based eating is not only loving the food you eat but the food you eat loving you right back. This is eating that satisfies the mind, body and soul.
You are what you eat.
So when you eat vibrant, natural, fresh foods—you feel vibrant, fresh, and joyful. Joy based eating is plant-based eating. Because plant-based helps the body thrive. Oh, and plant-based eating applies to everybody that eats. Whether you eat meat, fish, or you’re vegan. This applies to you.
When you start eating more plants and less of everything else your body starts communicating with you in a more powerful way. You feel a lot more energized moving with a bit more pep in ya step. Your mental space is open and more clear. It feels luminous. Ladies will notice less hormonal stress and body aches during that time of the month and the guys will notice more of everything feeling better. This is what bringing your body back to its natural state feels like. This is what balance feels like.
This is what joy feels like.
Joy based eating forces us to listen to and align our bodies and to give our bodies what it ultimately wants.
This is what your food and your body having a harmonious relationship looks like. Now let’s get into plant-based. Plant based is a fancy way of saying the foundation of your meal/plate contains vegetables and whole foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, oils, beans, and legumes. These are real foods and our real bodies need real food. Not that artificial, preservative, super processed shit. The majority of a joy-based plate is bombarded with fresh foods. Then we put a little bit of everything else up in it.
Let plants be the first ingredient you think of when it comes to your meals. Just ask yourself what vegetable is going to be my base? Now what vegetables compliment that vegetable? Everything else will figure it’s way out as long as the majority of the plate are veggies.
Plants are loaded with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, micronutrients and phytonutrients. All of these nutrients work together to boost our immune system, mental and physical health -- which in turn boosts our emotional health. There comes in joy. A plant-based diet significantly decreases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, high blood pressure. Ultimately improving the quality of your life.
Eating joy-based is super simple and this is how you can start today:
Stock up on fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains. Home cooking allows you to put some vitamin L (for Love) in your food. And you can’t get that vitamin from just anywhere. It comes from the soul. Start cooking a plant-based meal at least once a week. Start with vegetables, then more vegetables, then beans, then whole grains. This can be fun. Get crazy creative in the kitchen. Steam, stir-fry, sauteed, bake your vegetables. Just go off!!
Eat more happy foods like:
Mushrooms - packed with vitamin D which boosts mood and combats depression. If not from the sun we can get vitamin D from mushrooms.
Quinoa has a flavonoid in it that serves as an antidepressant.
Salmon has mood-boosting effects because of the omega-3 fatty acids. Also improves our skin and hair - causing us to literally glow from the inside out.
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, bok choy, cabbage, arugula carry a hormone that converts into serotonin which puts us in a better, more joyful mood.
Foods loaded with probiotics help the gut, digestion and immune system. Getting rid of the bad shit and adding more of the good stuff can detox your whole system. Foods like kimchi, yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut are full of probiotics.
Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Kiwis, Strawberries are fruits that help with our immune system. Allowing us to fight off infections and staying our strong, healthy, best self.
Whole Grains, Seeds, Nuts, Avocados all help balance out serotonin.
Make fruits your dessert.
For my meat eaters:
Nobody is saying get rid of meat. I’m just saying have smaller portions. Have 2-3x more vegetables than meat.
The way we eat is so important to who we are (and who we want to be). There’s a lot less shame and guilt around your food when you transition to plant-based. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone regretting the salad they ate.
Our bodies are literally designed to eat plant-based. I, myself, am a plant-based eater and I can say from experience that I have never felt better. I think better, meditate better, move better, do better. I feel more in alignment with who I’m supposed to be because I am eating in alignment with what my body truly needs. This will be the case for you as well.
When you eat good, you think good. You feel good. You do good. You make better, healthier, cleaner decisions from a more positive, self-loving space. You feel more alive. Just try it and tell me what you think! Or if you already do this, comment below and tell me how you feel.
Arielle Simone is a holistic nutrition coach teaching women how eat for energy. Her focus is nourishing the mind, body, soul through food + lifestyle. You can connect with her on twitter and her website ariellesimone.co