I think nearly everyone is in agreement with the fact that nutrition is one of the critical areas if you are pursuing life optimization and being your best self. We have discussed this on many occasions in the past. However, the book , “The Happiness Diet”, brings to light another important aspect of diet which is just how important your diet is regarding not only having a lean and energized body but a sharp brain and balanced mood.
I think the tendency is to focus on diet in terms of how it affects our body composition, weight, performance and health in general. What we may not be as aware of is foods powerful affect on how we feel. I remember first being introduced to this idea when reading Dr. Barry Sears book, “The Zone Diet”, many years ago. He repeatedly suggested thinking of food as a drug. He mostly was referring to its influence on the hormones insulin and glucagon. Although those hormones are important, food affects much more than that.
A quote from the book, ” What if you discovered that the best place to begin your personal pursuit of happiness is at he end of your fork? Emerging research from the fields of neuroscience and nutrition shows that by changing what you eat, you can improve your mental and emotional well-being. You can stabilize your moods. You can improve your focus. You can even make your brain grow.”
“A large study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that eating processed foods, such as refined carbohydrates, sweets, and processed meats, increased the risk of depression by about 60%. Eating a whole food diet on the other hand, decreased the disease by about 26%.”
The recommendations for “Happiness Diet” are much the same as we have been making. One main recommendation is to avoid the MAD or SAD! This simply means avoid the modern American Diet of the Standard American Diet which is high in sugar, vegetable oils, and processed foods. There are many studies out there that may support different dietary recommendations, as far as what is best; however, there is no study saying a diet consisting of sugar, vegetable oils, processed foods, and flour is good. Therefore, if you eliminate those things and eat whole foods you are moving in the right direction.
If you need a little extra motivation to stay away from processed foods, the book gives some interesting facts from that industry. Some of the biggest brands in the processed food industry are owned by tobacco companies. Both Nabisco and Kraft are owned by tobacco companies. Just saying, that these companies aren’t know for putting the health of their consumers as a priority and they spend 10 billion dollars a year marketing to kids.
If you need another reason to stay away from processed foods consider this. “Deciphering food label ingredients leads to unappetizing results. Take the innocuous-sounding castoreum, which is used to enhance the flavor of puddings, candies, and some frozen dairy desserts. You might be surprised to know that it’s derived from beavers—beaver anal glands.”
We can get very precise with recommendations for nutrition, supplements, etc., but first you should get a handle of the basics. This is our basic philosophy.
Learn to commit. Focus on the process and realize progression will not be a straight line but more of a zig zag. It will not be perfect and it doesn’t have to be.