I wanted a no-nonsense approach to wellness, and this simple app is perfect

 Feel Better App Home Screen Heroes.
Feel Better App Home Screen Heroes.

We might be years on from the pandemic era – when home workouts and recipe boxes reigned supreme – but wellness is still a big priority (and big business) in a world that can be stressful and fast-paced. There are hundreds of health and fitness apps out there, many of them fantastic in their own niche. I’ve used Calm to help me relax, and written about FiiT being one of the only workout apps you need. But if I had to pick just one app for my well-being? Well, it would be Deliciously Ella: Feel Better.

I like to think I’m pretty good when it comes to exercise and eating a balanced diet, but in reality, I’m often frazzled, high on coffee and snacks, and poor on relaxation – not to mention time. Feel Better, by (blogger-turned-businesswoman) Deliciously Ella is designed to provide a solution to all of that with sustainable tools for healthy living.

Homescreen heroes

This is part of a regular series of articles exploring the apps we couldn't live without. Read them all.

For $3.49 / £2.99 a month or $25.99 / £24.99 yearly, the app gives you access to hundreds of plant-based recipes, exercise classes, and mindfulness and sleep recordings via smartphone, desktop, tablet or TV. I’m not vegan, and I don't identify with every element of the wellness industry.

But buying into the culture of clean living isn’t what Feel Better is about. By using it to build small, positive daily habits, I’ve felt a positive shift in my physical and mental well-being, and I think others will too.

Half-baked or cooking up a storm?

Given that we’re about the same age, I went through my twenties with several Deliciously Ella cookbooks (her first self-titled release in 2015 was the UK's best-selling debut cookbook ever). They're all about vibrant, fresh, and tasty plant-based meals and snacks, often made in one pot or tray. I don’t think they’re revolutionary, necessarily, but they’ve resonated with thousands of people who want to up their veg intake and need a bit of inspiration first.

I’ve had the Feel Better app since it launched in 2019, and much has been done to expand and improve the interface since – particularly to fix bugs and glitches. Recipes are the biggest section on Feel Better, which makes sense given it’s where Ella first amassed followers.

Screenshots from the recipe section of the Deliciously Ella app
Screenshots from the recipe section of the Deliciously Ella app

Over 800 recipes can be accessed from the home screen, and it’s easy to navigate them by meal type or narrow down a selection by category (I particularly like “fritters & falafels”), time required, or allergy preferences. There is definitely some repetition (how many chickpea curries or cookies does anyone really need in their repertoire?) but I can’t fault the layout or presentation.

Every recipe brings up a detail screen with a bright image, cooking time, and the number of plants, plus the option to add it to your weekly tracker or weekly meal planner. The ingredients list can be added to a virtual shopping list – a brilliant time-saver – with a tick box option for each entry that I use to mark when I’ve bought the ingredients. The methods are numbered and simple to follow, but occasionally too simple, where Ella leaves me to decide on my own cooking instructions.

Now, I love cookbooks. I collect them readily and pore over my favorites like a beloved bedtime story. But my books are now reserved for slow Sunday meals and special occasions, while the Feel Better app is ideal for cooking during the week when I’m short on time before or after work.

Having made at least thirty dishes and bakes, I’d say that 90% have been delicious (here’s looking at you butternut squash dhal). The recipes might all be vegan, but they’re suitable for families, couples, solo eaters, batch cookers, and even hardcore carnivores searching for some plant-based relief.

An exercise class on the Deliciously Ella app
An exercise class on the Deliciously Ella app

Meaningful movement

Next, onto exercise. Feel Better has yoga, pilates, barre, cardio, stretch, and strength classes – over 300, according to the official App Store description. The studio where they’re recorded is pared down and minimalist, and while they don’t give me the same dopamine-heavy rush as FiiT, they're wholesome and effective. So much so that I always have a little glow of smugness when I've finished. And a glow of sweat.

I’ve always struggled to find the headspace or flexibility to really enjoy yoga classes. And yet, the Feel Better approach means I barely notice I’m doing any. There’s no judgment, and no tutting if I can’t quite wrangle my body into the correct pose. Instead, on my bedroom floor, I can partake in a 10-minute “work from home wiggle”  and immediately feel lighter for it.

The Feel Better app on an iPhone 12 with a mindfulness session showing on the screen
The Feel Better app on an iPhone 12 with a mindfulness session showing on the screen

Mindfulness moments

Mindfulness can sound woo-woo to the modern cynic, but regularly carving out time for stillness is backed up by science and associated with feelings of calm and clarity. I always feel most mindful in nature, but when I’m under tight deadlines I can’t simply escape for a walk in the woods. Luckily, Feel Better is armed with a host of immersive soundscapes to soothe my jangly nerves. The two-hour immersive forest soundscape is one of my favorites, with a mix of piano and bird calls that helps me focus on the task at hand.

The app also has quick affirmations, and for a week I started my day with the five-minute “self-love” session. While a bit jarring at first, by the end it had transformed the way I went about the rest of my morning. With Feel Better, it turns out that I do love the person I’m becoming – just as long as no one can hear repeating the affirmations from the next room.

The Feel Better app on an iPhone 12 with the sleep session on the screen
The Feel Better app on an iPhone 12 with the sleep session on the screen

Sleeping soundly

The sleep section of Feel Better is similar to the mindfulness section, with a balance of long soundscapes to help you relax and drift off, plus bite-sized meditations and breathwork sessions. The gentle nature sounds and soft instruments make me feel like I’m in a posh spa, and I’ve quietly adored having them playing from smart speakers around the house (or in the bath) before bedtime while candles are burning.

The Feel Better app on an iPhone 12 held in the sunshine
The Feel Better app on an iPhone 12 held in the sunshine

A 360-degree approach

With a solid 4.9 on the App Store from almost 7,000 users, it can’t just be me who loves the Feel Better app. In my house, we’re trying to return to a more wholesome diet while also being tight on time and budget. The app helps us to make quick shopping lists, plan our meals to avoid waste, and track our progress for the day.

Surprisingly, the tracker is the part of the app I use least, as I don’t enjoy metrics and prefer to dip in and out when I can. However, for many, these wellness goals and badges will be highly motivating and a way to see progress at a glance.

It reinforces the fact that Feel Better is supposed to be an app for long-term health, positive daily habits, and a 360-degree approach to wellness. Although it’s had a hike in price since launch, the subscription still costs a little more per month than a coffee, and for me, offers more lasting benefits if you’re looking to improve your lifestyle, energy, focus, and calm – and feel better overall.

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