The best diet for 2023

Everyone’s talking diets. We’re talking sensory diets (and snacks)

I’m pretty sure that after the festive season the words ‘snacks’ and ‘diets’ are on everyone’s lips (no pun intended!). Today we want to introduce you to a different kind of snack and diet.  It will not only keep you healthy, but will improve your happiness and mental health at the same time. We are talking about sensory snacks and sensory diets.

At Sensory Intelligence Consulting we advocate using your senses to improve productivity and well-being. Two of the main tools that we use are called sensory snacks and sensory diets.

SENSORY SNACKS are quick and easy ways to self-regulate (this means calm down and focus). We know that everyone is always pressured for time, so we want to give you quick, easy and practical sensory solutions to help you manage your stress levels. Sensory snacks can take anything from 5 seconds to 5 minutes, e.g.

  • Quick breathing exercises,
  • Smelling your coffee before you drink it
  • Playing with a fidget toy

The idea behind sensory snacks is that we use them every day, and many times a day! To find your own sensory snacks, think of how you use your senses on a daily basis. Do you have a pet? Stroking your pet or burying your face in their fur is a sensory snack! Do you have to sit in traffic every morning? Take 10 deep breaths, or play instrumental music – that’s a sensory snack. Sensory snacks fit into your everyday life and take up no extra time.

SENSORY DIETS are activities to introduce in your daily living to meet your sensory needs in a more prolonged manner.  These are the activities we do after hours that we enjoy and that help us to de-stress. It nurtures our sensory needs through exercise, social activities, creative outlets, and other activities that we enjoy. Examples of sensory diets are yoga, running, going for a swim, surfing, dancing or playing outside with the kids. When considering your sensory diet, make sure it includes activities that you can commit to doing on a weekly basis, or even more often. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I love doing?
  • What makes me feel calm?
  • What gives me energy?
  • What should I do more of?
  • What should I do less of? (to make time for sensory diets!)

Dr Annemarie Lombard, founder and CEO of SIQ developed the Sensory Matrix™ – an online assessment tool that identifies our different sensory thresholds.  The results can assist us to choose activities that are aligned with our base, sensory needs and would therefore be more sustainable over the long term. Read more about it and find out what your sensory thresholds are!



Work-Life Balance

One of my favourite YouTube videos must be Mark Gungor’s description of the difference between men’s and women’s brains. In his very entertaining demeanour, he explains how men tend to store their thoughts and experiences in various boxes. These boxes are separated from each other, never touching, ensuring that each subject remains a stand-alone entity. When, for example, they are in their work box, they’re ONLY occupied and focussed on work: that’s all they can think about at that specific time. Don’t even bother jumping to another subject such as family, religion or even fishing… he’s in his work box!

According to Pastor Gungor (yes, you read that right!), women on the other hand, have no boxes… EVERY thought and idea has a link to EVERYTHING else happening in her brain! When a woman is out jogging, she is already planning that evening’s supper… which leads to thoughts about her family whom she’s been meaning to invite for a visit… which leads to empathetic thoughts about her ill cousin… which leads to her making a mental note to send flowers to this cousin… which leads to worrying thoughts about the drought and the fact that her garden at home is withering away… and so it carries on… and on… and on… a never-ending train of thought…!

This hypothesized comical phenomenon is of course a generalized idea. On the odd occasion, you might find the opposite: lucky are those women who can put their thoughts and ideas into boxes too. And some men might also be burdened… blessed?… by connecting all their thoughts at once.

Whether you fall into the generalized or opposite group, this ability to organize and arrange thoughts might explain why some people are finding their home environments more stressful than work. At work, it is expected that you focus only on work responsibilities. You are allowed to put all other responsibilities as a life partner, parent, child, sibling and member of society on the back burner. There are less simultaneous demands at work: no hungry children, shopping lists, dirty dishes, ironing, entertaining friends and family, tending to loved ones, maintenance around the house or spending undivided quality time with your partner.

HOWEVER, the things that make life worth living are indeed all the multiple responsibilities and roles that we just cannot live without (and love having in our lives).

So how do we achieve and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

By attempting to minimize stressors when transitioning from our work- to our home lives.

Creating this much-needed balance between different areas of our lives may very well start by aiming to achieve balance inside our bodies and more specifically, inside our nervous systems.

One of the easiest ways to bring this about is by being aware of your individual needs and addressing those from a sensory perspective:

  • “Sensory leaves”, with high thresholds for sensory input, seek out stimulation to meet their optimal level of arousal.
  • “Sensory roots”, with low thresholds for sensory input, usually avoid too much stimulation from their environments.

Keep in mind though, that sensory strategies are not a “one size fits all” solution.  You need to know and understand your individual sensory assessment before you can fulfill your own needs. This can be done by completing your free Sensory Quiz™ or your full Sensory Matrix™.

Some general ideas to help you cope with the transition between work- and home life may include:

Sensory leaves seeking sensory input       

↑ Listen to music in your car on the way home

↑ Stop by your grocery shop on a daily basis to buy
the evening’s supper ingredients

↑ Spend the first 15 minutes after work at
home catching up with your family

↑ Go out for supper to new restaurant

↑ Have unplanned games nights with your family

↓ Don’t plan your work outfit the day before

Sensory roots avoiding sensory input

↓ Switch the radio off on your way home

↓ Have your suppers pre-planned and go shopping
once a week

↓ Explain to your family that you need quiet, alone-time for the first 15 minutes after getting home from work

↓ Go out for supper at a familiar, quiet restaurant

↓ Plan games nights with your family

↑ Plan the next day’s work outfit before going to bed

I suppose the question (with no right or wrong answer) that each person needs to answer for themselves, will always remain:

Do you work to live or live to work?





Who has benefited

Sensory Quiz™
Sensory Matrix™
Senses on Call™
Social media
Sensory Intelligence®