The standard American diet, or SAD, has a surprisingly accurate acronym as it is known for making many people sad! A focus on high-sugar, high-fat foods with refined carbohydrates is damaging to your body and your mood. How does the food that you put in your body affect your daily happiness?
Our Brains Need Quality Fuel
The effects of the standard American diet have been researched and, unfortunately, the news isn’t very good. People who follow the SAD closely have higher rates of depression, anxiety, mood instability, hyperactivity and other emotional difficulties. Even more alarming, the SAD can actually contribute to brain shrinkage and an increased risk of developing dementia. The brain shrinkage occurs because the SAD has too many sugar-based calories, too many trans fats and too many omega-6 fats instead of omega-3 fats. This low-quality fuel is like putting water in your car’s gas tank instead of gasoline.
What Should We Be Eating Instead?
Complex carbohydrates are fantastic alternatives to processed carbohydrates. Instead of eating bread or pasta switch to whole grains, leafy greens, fish and healthy fats. Focus on eating omega-3s and full-fat dairy to feel fuller for longer periods of time and give your brain the fuel that it needs. A diet that is rich in vegetables and fruit will also give the brain the vitamins and micronutrients it needs. To produce serotonin and dopamine, two of the neurotransmitters known for being associated with happiness, your body needs vitamin B12, iron and folate.
How Else Can Food Contribute to Greater Happiness?
There are several additional simple tricks you can use to boost your mood with proper nutrition, including:
Eat often enough to keep your blood sugar levels constant. If your body does not have enough fuel, your mood will suffer immediately.
Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
Avoid foods high in simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. They will temporarily boost your mood and then leave you down in the dumps.
Have you noticed nutrition affecting your happiness? Leave your experience below in the comments!