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How to Eat Yourself Happy

Discover some of the key foods that have been proven to increase the feeling of well-being in our minds and bodies.

| January 2015

  • Start feeling happier instantly with the tips provided in “Eat Yourself Happy” by Gill Paul.
    Cover courtesy Hamlyn
  • By simply eating the right foods we can increase mood, health and overall well-being.
    Photo by Fotolia

Boost your mood and achieve optimum health with Eat Yourself Happy (Hamlyn, 2014) by Gill Paul. There are dozens of types of depression, all with different causes, but nearly all can be improved by eating the right foods. We all feel low from time to time, so allow Paul to help you address your individual symptoms and gain quick results with easy recipes and lifestyle tips. The following excerpt covers the basics of how to eat yourself happy.

Mood-Boosting Recipes

Smoked Salmon & Avocado Coronets Recipe
Squash, Chickpea & Sweet Potato Tagine Recipe

1. Eat Enough Protein

Some key amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, must be included in our diets because we can't manufacture them ourselves. For example, the amino acid tryptophan is required to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that controls mood, sleep patterns, and appetite. Likewise phenylalanine is essential for the production of noradrenaline and adrenaline, which affect energy levels, and dopamine, which regulates the emotions. Eating a wide range of good-quality proteins, and including protein in at least two meals or snacks a day, will help to make sure that you produce enough of these all important, mood-balancing neurotransmitters.

2. Top Up the B Vitamins

Those with low levels of B vitamins (especially B6, B12, and folate) are at greater risk of depression, because these substances are required to keep the nervous system healthy and control the production and balance of neurotransmitters. Eating plenty of bananas, avocados, chicken, whole-grain products, and leafy green vegetables will help to replenish your stores.

3. Feast on Fish

Those who eat a lot of fish are less prone to depression than those who don't. It's because the omega-3 oils found in fish, particularly one called EPA, help to build brain cell connections and receptor sites for neurotransmitters. The more EPA in your blood, the more serotonin you will make—and the happier you'll be.

4. Choose the Right Carbs

The types of carbohydrates we eat affect our mood and behavior. Avoid refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, and all processed foods, and cut down on your sugar intake to even out blood sugar levels, prevent dips in energy, and reduce mood swings. Don't be tempted to avoid carbs altogether, however, because they are necessary for many crucial processes in the body, including the manufacture of serotonin. Opt for unprocessed carbs with plenty of fiber that will be absorbed more slowly into the digestive system and have less of an effect on blood sugar. That means eating plenty of whole grains, brown rice, beans, and vegetables.

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