Healthier Choices, Better Holiday Mood
Holidays are supposed to be happy! It’s always smart to remember the impact diet has on our emotional health, but it’s even more important during the holidays when there’s extra stress on the menu.
Andrea Fabry looks into the relationship between food and moods in her article “Better Food, Better Mood” and shares some great tips to help minimize any negative side affects a traditional holiday meal can bring.
Ever wonder why little Jimmy is bouncing off the walls after a holiday meal? Or Uncle Henry is more argumentative than ever? How about those underlying conflicts that seem to escalate during the holiday season?
We know the shorter days, the consumption of alcohol, the high expectations, and other underlying issues contribute to holiday stress, but rarely do we consider the “food factor.”
At one time in our history, holiday fare consisted of real food: Our buffets were full of fresh, organic vegetables, pastured and grass-fed meats, and good, healthy fats. Today our “traditional” meal offers a smorgasbord of chemically altered, sugary, starchy, processed foods.
What are the implications to our health? The long-term implications are evident. Obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses have skyrocketed. The short-run implications, however, may be just as daunting.
In her book Deep Nutrition, Dr. Catherine Shanahan discusses the immediate, addictive, mood-altering effect of sugar on the brain, comparing its effects to that of heroin:
“Though sugar doesn’t actually contain opiates like heroin, it affects us in very much the same way because it makes us release our ownendogenous opiates.”
Often we experience the post-sugar letdown and resolve it by eating more sugar, creating a vicious cycle that easily escalates during the holidays.
When considering mood and food, it’s important to note that 90 percent of our “happiness” neurotransmitter, serotonin, is located in the gut. We know this intuitively. You’re not “happy” when you’re searching for the Pepto-Bismol. That “happy” feeling is simply not possible when in the throes of digestive tumult such as vomiting, diarrhea, or severe abdominal pain. It makes sense then to treat our gut lining with the utmost care, especially during the holidays.
This article originally appeared on Our Health Journey. It is partially posted here with permission of the author.
Photo Credit: Staci Strauss
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