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Eat Cute’s guide to eating for happiness

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August 08, 2013 · 1.3k Views

Did you know that food can be used to help change your mood and improve brain function? Yes, that’s right—I said it. Healthy eating can give you clarity of mind, change your mood, and increase happiness!

It is undeniable that what you eat affects not only the way you look, but also the way you think and feel. Have you ever eaten a meal and then felt remorseful, angry, or just plain sluggish? Do you sometimes have trouble focusing or feel hazy? In American culture, many of us fuel our bodies with highly processed foods, sugars, and fatty animal proteins. How can we expect to be happy when we put food into our body that makes our body feel tired, angry and sick?

Think about it. After eating sugary sweets, you’ll experience a rush of energy that lifts your mood and spirit, but quickly after comes the sugar crash making you feel tired, aggressive, or depressed. Although eating is an enjoyable activity, food is not meant for entertainment, but rather a means to nourish your body and provide you with energy. The more high-quality foods you feed your body, the better your daily performance and overall health will be.

Now is the time to be very aware about what you are putting into your body and how it makes you feel. The types of foods you choose and the way in which they are prepared, combined, and consumed all have an effect on the way you feel, changing your mood and energy levels throughout the day. I never would have imagined that I could pull myself out of a bad mood or slump by simply changing the way I ate. It is a truly magical feeling to have more control over your emotions while having more energy and zest throughout the day. So, let’s talk about our brains.

Our brains communicate by chemical substances called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters have the ability to affect mood, temperature, sleep, appetite, and heart rate along with many other functions in the body. According to modern science, the foods we eat have the ability to cause changes in these neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters that are most affected by diet and have a strong connection to mood are serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is known to be a calming and relaxing chemical in the body. Studies have shown that when we eat carbohydrates, serotonin is released into the body and has a calming and soothing effect. However, let’s remember that all carbohydrates are not created equal. Carbohydrates are classified into two groups: simple and complex. While both groups of carbohydrates contain sugar, they are processed by the body differently and can have positive or negative effects depending upon the type carbohydrate.

Simple and Complex Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are typically highly processed and contain refined sugars. Examples of simple carbohydrates are processed foods like bagels, cookies, sugary cereals, and pastas. The rule of thumb for simple carbohydrates is to avoid white foods. If it’s white, it ain’t right. Think of how fluffy and light Wonder Bread is. That is because all the essential vitamins and minerals have been removed from the grain. Now think of pure whole-wheat bread. It is dense, with a darker, rich brown color. These two different types of carbohydrates will provide you with different energy levels. This is linked directly to blood sugar levels and sugar intake.

Unrefined complex carbohydrates are a great source of energy. Complex carbohydrates include fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When I choose my whole grains, I usually avoid processed foods and choose something I make myself. There are an abundance of pure whole grains to choose from that are rich in vitamins and minerals such as quinoa, millet, rice, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, flax, kamut, oats, and spelt. These carbohydrates have long chains of sugar that are bound with fiber. When digesting these foods, your body breaks down the chains of sugar and releases the fiber into your bloodstream. As a result, you’ll be provided with a consistent amount of energy because it has a low glycemic index that raises your blood sugar gradually.

Pour Some Sugar On Me

Because refined sugars, called sucrose, are used in processed simple carbohydrates, they cause our blood sugar to rise rapidly. Have you ever eaten a lot of sweets on Halloween when you were a kid and gotten a sugar high? You had a sudden burst of energy and then completely crashed an hour later. Refined sugars quickly enter the bloodstream after they are eaten. Your body then goes into an emergency state because of the high sugar levels present and attempts to burn the energy quickly, hence the sugar rush followed by the crash once the energy is quickly burned. Now, I don’t want you to think all sugar is bad. Truth is…it’s not. Only white, refined sugars are the culprits of weight gain and premature aging. Naturally occurring simple sugars found in fruit, called fructose, when eaten in moderation, are fine as a part of your diet. For example, the sugar found naturally in fresh fruit does not cause a rapid sugar rush because fruits are also rich in fiber. The fiber slows the rate at which the sugar is being digested, causing a slow and steady rise.

Eat Cute’s Get Happy Food List:

  • Whole Grains: Quinoa, Millet, Brown Rice, Kasha, Buckwheat. These grains are all gluten free and are perfect for making you feel energized and happy!
  • Dark Leafy Greens: Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard and Arugula. These Greens grow up towards the sun and are rich in chlorophyll and oxygen. Like a flower growing towards the sun, you’ll feel bright and happy all day long when these greens are apart of your diet.
  • Raw Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and veggies, especially organic, are rich in enzymes that help repair DNA, rebuild collagen, cleanse and provide your body with energy! These foods will definitely make your body feel happy because the enzymes have not been destroyed by heat in the cooking process. If you eat foods that are alive …you’ll feel more alive.

Your body loves you. Love your body back. It wants to survive and will run as best it can on what you give it. By giving your body whole, fresh foods, you will receive life-changing benefits. So eat your way to a happier healthier life!   Stop dieting …Start Eating Cute!

Alexandra Catalano is the creator of the popular Eat Cute lifestyle brand (www.eatcute.net) and a Certified Health Counselor

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