Did you know that your mood determines what you select to eat or whether or not you are going to eat at all? Evidence-based research has been more specific as to what these particular foods are. I have termed these foods “obesegenic” and addictive in that in spite of having medical or psychiatric problems that are the consequence of eating such foods, we continue to eat them because of how they TASTE and how THEY MAKE US FEEL.
Researchers have shown that cravings for carbohydrates, sweets, fats and sodium salt are driven by a shortage or decrease in the pleasurable brain chemical dopamine and serotonin which are responsible for feelings of pleasure, relaxation, calm and a sense of well-being. These particular food choices compensate for those shortages and deliver immediate pleasure, relaxation, calm and sedation. The building blocks for these specific brain chemicals are phenylalanine and tryptophan, essential amino acids that can only be obtained in the foods that we eat. Also, did you know that these pleasurable brain chemicals are the same ones that are increased in medications used to treat depression and anxiety? Instead of taking 2-4 weeks to be effective, these food choices deliver immediate pleasure, relaxation, calm and sedation. If you don’t believe me, watch the body language of a food addict when eating potato chips, ice cream, cookies, French fries or macaroni and cheese versus broccoli and sweet baby carrots. If you are a food addict like me, you will definitely enjoy the former.
If you could substitute addictive and “obsegenic foods”for those that give your body the nutrients that it needs, maintain your weight loss, taste good and make us feel good, would you eat them? Would you take the time to prepare them? Then join us in our kitchen as we prepare a Prescriptive Cuisine just for you!
A few of the Prescriptive Foods that may, according to the FDA, increase levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are listed below.
The Vegetables: Aparagus, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, garlic, green beans, greens (beet, collard, kale, mustard, romaine, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip), leeks, onions, shallots, squash (butternut) and sweet potatoes
The Proteins: Beef tenderloin (extra lean), cheese (cottage and shredded, part-skim mozzarella and parmesan), chicken (breast), cod, halibut, lamb loin, legumes (black, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, kidney, lentils, lima, navy, pinto), salmon (Chinook), sardines, scallops, shrimp, tuna (yellowfin), turkey (breast), snapper, soybeans, Tofu and yogurt.
The Grains: Barley, brown rice, bulgar wheat, oats, quinoa (wheat & gluten-free), whole wheat
The Fruits: Avocados, apples, apricots, bananas, berries (especially blueberries), citrus (lemons, limes, oranges), currents, melons, papaya, pineapple, peaches and tomatoes.
The Fats (to be measured): Almonds, canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, peanuts with the skins, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
The Medicinal Herbs & Spices: Basil, cayenne, coriander/cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, dark cocoa, fennel, garlic, ginger, mushrooms (shitake or cremini),onion, rosemary, sage and turmeric
You can find additional information about healthy living on the AARP website.