The Importance of Eating Food You Enjoy – Why You Need Your Own Happy Meal 

 September 2, 2019

By  jennifer@thinkingnutrition.co.nz

I love McDonald’s Happy Meals. Not the food. But the name. What a great name – Happy Meals.

My Master 8 gets a cheeseburger with his fries, a drink and a toy. While Master 4 chooses the chicken nuggets in his happy meal. Most of the time the toys suck. But my kids love the whole journey of getting and opening a McD’s Happy Meal and discovering what toy they’ll get today.

They literally are happy kids when they go to McDonalds and have a happy meal.

How about you – when was the last time you had a happy meal?

A meal that you enjoyed, yes really ENJOYED, not a tasteless selection of diet-foods, or worse still – a diet shake. Yuck.

When did you last eat a meal that boosted your mood? That you have happy memories of? That you loved the flavours and textures of? Or really enjoyed the company?

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy food you like more often?

The Benefits of Happy Meals

Our gut is really sensitive to emotion. Whether its happy, sad, anger, anxiety or any other emotion – those feelings can trigger symptoms in our gut.

And the same is true in the opposite direction – irritations in our gut can affect our mood.

The connection goes both ways – unhappy tummy equals unhappy emotions. Unhappy emotions, equals unhappy tummy and poor digestion.

We know that things like stress can cause abdominal cramps, indigestion, and even diarrhoea, for example.

And that some diagnosed gut disorders can be worsened by stress, anxiety or depression. Studies have found that therapy to reduce stress or treat anxiety or depression has improved digestive symptoms (I know my stomach is better now I’m medicating the bad anxiety disorder I’ve been dealing with this past year).

If you’re relaxed and sitting down to a meal you enjoy, chances are your body and gut will relax and digest your food better, than if you’re sitting down to a meal you dislike, in a grumpy mood because you’re on another disgusting diet, right?

In Japan, their food-based dietary guidelines include this: “Enjoy your food”. Yep, that’s a specific directive from their government, how cool is that? “Damn it people, enjoy your food!” I could live with that advice for sure.

Happy Meals Are Part Of Your Self-Care

Happy Meals should be part of your self-care, and self-care should be part of your daily life. But is it?

Life kinda sucks when you don’t make taking care of yourself a priority. When you put your kids, your husband, your work and everything else higher on the to-do list than yourself… the inevitable outcome is feeling unhappy, burning out, feeling dissatisfied and often that’s when you end up turning to the bar of chocolate for a quick fix to give yourself a little high.

Instead of putting yourself at the bottom of your to-do list; how about making your wellbeing a daily priority?

What could you do today to take care of yourself better? What do you really need right now:

  • Sleep?
  • Rest?
  • Coffee with a friend?
  • A bubble bath?
  • An early night with a good book?
  • To say no to helping out with the school fundraiser because you’re so darn tired and overworked?

I’ve got a list of helpful questions about self-care right here.

Maybe you feel a bit stuck in the rut with your eating, but here’s the thing – you will struggle to improve your eating if you don’t have good self-care. If you’re tired, stressed, worn out, and never have any time to yourself, how can you possible expect to reconnect with your body and learn how to eat in a way that nourishes your body?

I mean, if you’re not listening and respecting your body right now by getting sleep when it asks for it, you’ve already set a precedent right? You’re telling your body no, I’m not going to listen to you. I’m not going to give you what you need. I’m going to keep running you into the ground until you finally give up and get sick, and then I’ll be forced to stop.

Do you really want that to be your approach to life? Is that really what you want to model for your kids?

Or do you want to start listening to your body and taking care of it?

I really hope it’s the latter… so why not start today with your self-care, make a meal you really enjoy for dinner and savour every mouthful of it.

Jennifer xo.

P.S. I’ve got a super-exciting free workshop series coming up soon jam-packed with helpful tips launching soon! Sign up for the Happy Eating checklist and my newsletter below and you’ll be notified first about the free workshop:



Hey, I’m Jennifer. I help women transform their relationship with food, their body and weight, so they can ditch the guilt and shame, and focus on more important stuff - like living a happy and healthy life!

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