Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

The Power of Pleasure

How your food choices can be the ultimate indulgence

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Macadamias.

Enjoying good food with friends and family is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Yet in modern life, in which meal times are often rushed or even non-existent, and food is eaten quickly and often mindlessly at any time of the day or night, it could be argued that we have forgotten how important our daily food rituals are in creating daily sources of pleasure and enjoyment amidst busy lives. Indeed, it is only recently that we have become aware of the powerful link between food and mood, with a number of research studies proving key associations between patterns of food intake and mental health. With the stress of life compounded with the current pandemic, it makes sense that we turn inward and seek out ways we can actively improve our own health and well-being, and improving our baseline eating habits and finding the daily pleasures associated with eating seems like a pretty good place to start.

If you asked a group of people about activities they enjoy, chances are that eating would come up at the top of the list and this should come as no surprise. Physiologically, a number of different brain mechanisms regulate eating behaviour as well as the experience of pleasure, with a number of different sensory experiences associated with all aspects of food including of course, eating it! And it is not only the eating itself that brings us pleasure. Rather it has been shown that a wide range of food related experiences including eating mindfully and savouring, preparing food, novelty relating to food and eating experiences, food variety and even the memories we have that are associated with eating, all contribute to the pleasure we get from food and eating in general.

It is not by chance that many of us are currently retreating to the kitchen to whip up a loaf of Sourdough or bake some sweet treats. Nor that we are very interested in seeking out our favourite restaurant meals as novel take away options. With lockdowns and the associated limitations hitting us hard, seeking out a little pleasure via our food and eating experiences is one of the easiest ways we can facilitate our own pleasure despite the challenging circumstances.

It is also entirely possible to help support your own positive mood and well-being by ensuring that your daily experience of food and meals are as pleasurable as possible. So, if you are feeling a little lacklustre and in need of a lot more pleasure, the kitchen may be a surprisingly good place to start.

Look for foods that combine nutrition as well as pleasure

The good news is that there are loads of extremely healthy foods that also offer maximal pleasure. A handful of nuts, and creamy, crunchy Australian macadamias in particular are a great way to get your recommended daily handful of nuts and offer Vitamin E, dietary fibre, protein and good fats. Macadamias also make a guilt-free yet indulgent addition to almost any dish, sweet or savoury, thanks to their versatile creamy taste and unique soft crunch. Avocado too, is a flavoursome and nutrient rich addition as a sandwich spread, dip or creamy addition to salads. Greek yoghurt teamed with fresh fruits and even frozen with nuts like macadamias or dark chocolate is a much healthier, calcium rich alternative to ice-cream. While a portion controlled serve of our favourite cheese ticks the box on pleasure plus loads of calcium, protein, magnesium and Vitamin B12.

Commit to sitting and enjoying your meals

Ideally, we would also be able to enjoy meal times with those closest to us but acknowledging the current limitations, even making it a priority to put the screens away, set the table and sit down to mindfully enjoy a nutritious meal with your immediate family or housemates will not only improve your overall nutritional intake, but help to facilitate mindful eating, so you take the time to taste, savour and really enjoy the flavours and tastes you are experiencing.

Opt for foods that offer plenty of pleasure

Rich, creamy tastes and textures found in wholefoods including Aussies’ favourite macadamias, avocado, Greek yogurt, eggs and nut spreads, when eaten slowly and savoured help to optimise the pleasure experienced from eating. Adding these key foods to your meals and snacks will naturally enhance both satiety and the satisfying factor of any meal.

Make meal planning and preparation enjoyable

When daily tasks like cooking and shopping become a chore, it is a reminder that we need a reset to help create different routines that are more conducive to enjoyable meal planning and preparation. In some instances, all you need is a couple of new cookbooks, some different roles in the kitchen or getting other family members involved to help reignite your interest in preparing healthy, delicious meals.

Indulge with your favourite foods regularly

There appears to be a close link between our overall nutritional intake, and the pleasure we experience from eating which means that it is important that you factor foods you may consider indulgent regularly into your meal plan. This means whatever your favourite foods are – seafood, good cheese, wine, sweet treats or all of the above, enjoying them in controlled amounts is an important component of eating for pleasure.

Look for new and exciting meals and places to eat

Eating at new places, trying new recipes and cuisines and seeking out fun and novel eating experiences are all easy ways to reconnect with the joys and pleasures of food and eating. This can be as simple as trying a new take away food product at the supermarket, shopping somewhere different or seeking out new food experiences with friends and family.

Create an environment that oozes pleasure

Forget sitting in front of the TV with a plate of nondescript food as your meal time default. Creating an environment that induces a pleasurable experience goes hand in hand with enjoying your food. Think a beautifully set table, candles, good lighting, music and well plated meals – simple rituals which make our day-to-day experience of life a whole lot more pleasurable.