In the late 1990s, Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons published a very popular book “Potatoes Not Prozac,” which described in detail the effect that certain foods have on our mood. Through her research and the research of other neuroscientists, we now understand how certain foods effect brain chemicals such as the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine which then effect our mood.
For thousands of years, humans struggled to find enough food, so naturally, our body-mind system evolved to recognize that eating was both pleasurable and rewarding. So in a sense, we were “hardwired” to be emotionally effected by food. Fast forward to present day, where there is a McDonalds or Culvers on every corner, and food is easily accessible. We no longer struggle to find enough food, but the hardwiring in our brains has remained the same.
Every day stress often leads us to food cravings, and with fast food so readily available, it’s very easy to go through a drive through for a quick fix stress buster. Unfortunately, this habit oftentimes sets up a dangerous cycle: the refined carbohydrates in fast food raise the blood sugar, which in turn raises insulin levels which effects the “feel good” neurotransmitters. But, high insulin levels can then trigger more food cravings, and as the blood sugar drops, we often feel drowsiness and fatigue. To combat these negative feelings, we oftentimes then again turn to refined carbohydrates, which sets up a dangerous cycle of “positive reinforcement” that can lead to overeating.
Try to avoid refined carbohydrates, and instead, nourish your body with a well-balanced whole food meal or snack, such as a complex carbohydrate paired with protein. A good example would be whole-grain crackers with hummus, or natural peanut butter on a celery stick. Go to www.integralhealthsolutionswi.com to schedule a complementary 20-minute consult to discuss your dietary intake and how it affects your mood.