Noa’s Freestyle Friday

I was a classical dancer in a touring company growing up, and appearance meant everything to me and to my strict ballet teachers. I remember never being completely happy with my body and always feeling fat holding the barre and plieing to my teacher’s cynical comments about how we all ‘grew’ during the holidays (talk about building self esteem in young girls!). In order to find balance in my life I’ve experimented with every possible diet out there and noticed how my mood was directly influenced by it. Like the time I was a raw foodist and even though I looked hot on the outside I felt like a moody bitxh on the inside. Since then I’ve learned to accept (and love) my body, food and my curves., and as I grew older I was even more appreciative of my boobs and butt (thank mom!) and learned that femininity comes in all shapes and sizes.

Scientific research and personal experience both demonstrate that what we eat affects how we think and act. Still, most people don’t acknowledge the connecting between their food and mood. If we stop and think for a moment about how we feel throughout the day we can start noticing perhaps, fuzziness and sluggish feeling after lunch? Maybe irritability and anger between meals? or energized by a great meal? Food undoubtedly changes your mood. The most extreme examples are coffee, alcohol and sugar, which changes the state of mind within minutes.

Have you noticed how a kid seems to be ‘climbing off the wall’ after consuming a sugary treat? Not a pretty sight! At my son’s daycare they celebrate the kids birthdays with cake and pizza. The good news is that that’s the only occasion when they feed our kids this shit. The bad news is that well…there are 10 kids, so about once a month I get to ‘enjoy’ watching our son acting ‘under the influence’. For his birthday we got the kids gluten free -dairy free pizza and I slaved in the kitchen for days coming up with a coconut flour sweetened with beet juice Elmo cake, that to the parents surprise the kids loved.(Duh!) and since I hate being a stick in the mud I do step back and let him experience his own food mood connection, and he does! (Hallelujah).

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Elmo cake

The SAD diet (Standard American Diet) high in processed carbs and poor quality animal meat while lacking in veggies and water, leaves many people in bad mood. It’s hard to feel inspired and happy when you’re living on chemical. artificial junk food. Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure and a pioneer in the field of nutritional psychology, refers to this relationship as the law of malnutrition. I don’t even know why people call it junk food. It’s just junk, definitely not food. When your blood sugar goes u, you get the woohoo, good feeling. But as soon as it goes down you feel like crap.

Think about the idea of comfort food. What we really are doing with food is a form of self medicating or seeking balance. We already understand the food and mood connection, we just don’t have a language o discuss these habits with each other.

From a scientific perspective this relationship is maintained by neurotransmitters. Chemical messengers that relay thoughts and actions throughout the brain. Some neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, can make us feel relaxed. Others, like dopamine, have a stimulating effect. The food our children and we eat breaks down in our digestive tract enters our blood stream and creates changes in the behavior of these neurotransmitters, meaning impacting our mood. Another experience of this connection is eating too much. Think of your Rosh Hashana or Thanksgiving dinner and how tired you become after indulging. To handle excess food, blood flow is directed to the stomach and away from the brain. The result is feeling of lethargy.

Each person’s food mood sensitivity varies. Only you can determine the right amount of proteins, carbs and fat to keep yourself in balance. One of the best ways to discover how different foods affect your mood is simply record what you eat and notice how you feel afterwards. Try it-you might surprise yourself.

To better mood through better food,

Noa

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