We often eat because food gives us a good feeling; but some foods give us a better feeling than others! Generally, chocolate produces a better emotional reward than cabbage. It’s useful to know which foods boost your mood then you can make wise choices and eat the foods that you love that also love you back. Not the foods you love that are cruel to you.
Neurotransmitters are manufactured from amino acids (proteins) and are specific shapes that each fit into a specific receptor, just like pieces of a jigsaw. Unfortunately, many ingestible stimulants can mimic these shapes and interfere with the process. Once the receptor has been activated (no matter what by) it responds accordingly.
Eating the right amino acids is the first part of a two-part process, you also have to be able to convert them into neurotransmitters and this process is disrupted by alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. It is dependent on B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.
Addictions originate in the limbic system in the brain where our pleasure centres form part of our survival instinct. When we associate something pleasurable with survival, our limbic system automatically creates a compulsion for it. However, it cannot differentiate between naturally pleasurable substances and harmful or artificial substances. If you are ingesting something that does the same thing as dopamine, serotonin or endorphins, then these unnatural substances take over their role and we crave them even though they are unhealthy and physically not good for us at all. Once we acknowledge which foods have this effect on us, we become aware of the consequences of eating them and are less inclined to.
Awareness is curative.
Example: Caffeine docks into the same receptor site as dopamine. When we have our first coffee we get a “hit” that makes us feel good. If caffeine intake increases over time we become desensitized to it as receptors shut down; just like a thermostat is always looking to maintain homeostasis, neither too hot nor too cold.
If you continue to consume a stimulant in excess, then the receptor sites for that chemical shut down almost entirely; this means you need much more of it to get the same buzz as the original high. In practical terms, if one coffee lifts you up and you increase your consumption to five or six cups a day, after a while you need a double espresso to achieve the same effect as the original regular single shot coffee. It’s like having to shout louder as you are speaking to ears that have become hard of hearing.
These are feel good foods:
Dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline are the neuro transmitters which help you feel higher energy, in control, motivated – you can get this from eating seaweed, spirulina, soy protein, eggs, cottage cheese, oily fish, turkey.
To boost endorphins and feel more bliss, euphoria, and to reduce pain, eat more beef, turkey, liver, chicken, or cod, crab, lobsters, mussels, oysters, tuna, salmon, and sardines.
To boost serotonin levels and feel more mellow, confident, stable, and connected, eat more turkey, beef, tuna, halibut, salmon, sardines cod, and scallops.
To feel more chilled, calm and to reduce anxiety, eat more fermented foods.
As you are transitioning into the New Year, add more of these food into your daily diet. Greens will always help with eliminating cravings, good proteins and fats will keep you satisfied (sugar will keep you on that craving roller-coaster!) – don’t think about what you are giving up, think about adding in the good stuff!