The Sunbasket Guide to Happier, Healthier Meals

1. Gather around the table.

People live longer in cultures that put a high value on communal eating. Enjoying meals with people you care about can also make you happier. (Except on Thanksgiving, when eating with people you love can drive you crazy.)

2. Reach for real food.

Build your meals around unprocessed foods including fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and pastured poultry and eggs

3. Spend time in the kitchen.

It’s easier to avoid processed ingredients when you cook for yourself. You’ll have more control over what you eat, and you might discover a new passion. 

4. Know why you’re eating.

Try to recognize when your appetite is driven by things other than hunger. Loneliness, depression, and stress can trigger unconscious eating. Look for lower-calorie solutions, such as exercise, meditation, and help from the pros to address those needs. 

5. Take it with a grain (or more) of salt.

We don’t want you to go crazy on the salt, but if you’re not eating heavily processed foods, you’ve already cut out a major source of sodium. The salt you use to season fresh ingredients will make them taste better and is unlikely to lead to major health issues. 

6. Fatten up your meals, not your waistline.

The research on this is sound. Fats are essential to good health and to good flavor. Also, they don’t make you fat.

7. Drink from the (water) fountain of youth.

Staying hydrated can improve your mood, your ability to lose weight, and spare you from headaches. Go without it long enough and you’ll die. Enough said. Drink up. 

8. At the cocktail bar—and the coffee bar—moderation is key.

Enjoy your barrel-aged Negronis the same way as your chai lattes and cappuccinos: treat yourself to them occasionally—because you like them. If you feel you need them, see #4.