Five simple secrets to happy eating

Melissa Hemsley never planned on being a chef, believing that cooking was one of those "stressy, sweary, angry things". However, she’s come to find that changing her approach to food has changed her happiness both in the kitchen and out...

Here’s what we can learn about cooking and happiness from Melissa, chef and co-author of Good + Simple, following her recent appearance on the Live.Life.Better. podcast.

1. You don’t have to be a pro to cook well

Cooking meals can feel like a waste of time, like something reserved for the professionals. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t be cooking for yourself and your own happiness.

"Cooking is for everyone. Feeding, cooking, eating well is all right, and it just so happens that you can drop a bit of happiness into what you do and the food you choose to eat and the way you choose to eat it."

2. Keep it simple

Trying to cook can seem like a daunting task - there are so many options and recipes out there. But what if you just started simple? Instead of going for the most ambitious meals, Melissa encourages you to start with the basics.

"Food has become incredibly complicated. I think the most important thing with food is that food needn’t be complicated. It’s incredibly important to take food back to basics - cook with real food, whole food, and if your happy place is your Friday night takeaway, eat that food."

3. It’s not just about eating healthily

The brain is a powerful tool, so a big part of feeling happier about food is in how we think about our food. It’s like Melissa says: "I totally believe in not just what you’re eating but how you’re eating it and the intention that you set."

4. A little gratitude can go a long way

It can be hard to pause and be appreciative of what you have, but Melissa believes that taking a few seconds to savor your food can help you to see it in a whole new light.

"The second you stop, say a little thanks to yourself, and try and zone in and really enjoy the taste and the flavor, it makes the experience so much better, because we do inhale our food - we obsess over food, we fetishize food - and then we inhale it and then it’s gone, and we either feel guilty or we move onto the next thing."

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5. There’s no rush

Change doesn’t have to come all at once - it’s all about taking small steps towards feeling better about yourself and what you consume. You don’t have to sacrifice all the foods you love in order to feel happier.

"It’s about small changes in food - cutting down a little bit of this, adding a little more of that."

What else you can hear on the podcast:

  • The Mindfulness Project's Alexa Frey, co-author of I Am Here Now
  • Finance guru Damien Fahy, author of The 30 Day Money Plan
  • Positive psychology expert Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning

Head over to iTunes to subscribe or join in the conversation via #LiveLifeBetter on Twitter.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

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