The things we do every day, the foods we eat, what we eat and feel, influence our physical and emotional health. This is also known as the „experience diet”. All these things need to have a balance in order to have a peaceful and a high-quality life.

The experience diet also includes exercise, food, water, communication and connecting with others in order for the life experiences to be complete and balanced.

Unfortunately, many of us have lifestyles that don’t include all these experiences. Which means, that more and more people feel alienated and in poor health. The reasons for this are diverse, but the most important is the lack of experiences which should be enjoyed that people miss out on.

What does your experience diet include?

A great parallel for this is your diet. If you don’t have a menu, then your diet is lacking.

Two different “experience diets” cities can give

The community’s experience menu is very important. If it doesn’t offer you healthy alternatives, then it is more difficult for you to maintain your wellbeing. We are not always good at making the right choice for ourselves. For example, it is more comfortable to take the car even if you have to go somewhere near your house or office, even if you know that a walk is the healthy choice.

Furthermore, sometimes the healthy alternative is offered but it is poorly presented, so it looks unappealing. These are the places where you can walk, run, cycle, talk with other people and fulfill you physical and psychological health related goals. But because we tend to choose the easy way, we expose ourselves to boredom, introversion and other negative emotions that come from the lack of diverse experiences.

In an urban setting it is important how choices are presented. In the first picture the walking path seems boring, but in the second picture the healthy alternative is more appealing.

Many of us have an unhealthy experience diet with too much isolation, inactivity and stressful experiences. Think about a meal. Your diet is high in fat, salt and sugar and low on greens, vegetables and fruit. The outcome is the same: you are overweight, anxious and you fell generally unwell. Overbuilt environments are the equivalent of fast food.

Fortunately, this can be changed, as cities are in continuous renewal. This means that a range of healthy alternatives for the experience menu can be introduced with the help of smart design. Variety, quality and the right quantity of healthy spaces that are more appealing can improve your experience diet.

How do you create a healthy experience diet?

In the book Designing the Compassionate City talks about the rewards a places offer and how a particular setting might help you. The motivation comes from understanding that the easy way is not always the healthy choice for the long run. But making the healthy choice and stepping out of your comfort, you will find out that you will be inspired by the new opportunities in a short time. And this will influence your choices in the future.

Another essential design guide is to ensure that a space used for a certain activity doesn’t limit other people’s enjoyment of the place. For example, streets can be used for other things than for cars. You can embellish them with trees or flowers, when it is possible, in order to make them more enjoyable for pedestrians.

Jan Gehl, a Danish architect and urban designer says that “there is so much more to walking than walking!” A simple walk it doesn’t only improve your health but also stimulates your mind and it creates awareness for your surroundings.

You can look at walking through a park or at cycling as a privilege. Of course, cars are essential to our wellbeing, but the need to be used only when they are needed. This means that a city must offer a range of experiences in order to become “experience-nutritious”. To achieve this goal, spaces which satisfy multiple needs must be designed.

The woonerf is a street where people can enjoy nature, talk and meditate. It gives the feeling of belonging, as it is surrounded by homes.

These spaces need to be appealing in order to make people hang out enough to connect with others. It is not enough to bring people to a certain place. You also need to make the aware that there are other who enjoy the same experiences. The value of a place of relaxation, mediation and socializing is given by the people who are using it for its main purpose.

Warin the wombat is a minor landscape that brings children, who are playing with it, and adults, who are considering it an artwork, together.