If you’re anything like me, your life probably revolves around food.
I spend my days preparing food, eating food, cleaning up the food we’ve eaten, telling my kids to stop looking for food five minutes after we finish eating, and then doing it all over again.
My toddler could survive off fruit snacks and goldfish (and truthfully, some days she does). But once hunger strikes, that kid is a full-blown DISASTER!!! She’s basically turns into a crying heap on the floor unable to function until she gets some real food into her belly.
My teenagers are a completely different story. They could eat ALL. DAY. LONG. and still ask me for more. Their problem is that they like to snack–making an actual sandwich or warming up some leftovers might just be too much work for them. Instead of eating a healthy meal, they binge on the quick and easy option that’s sitting on the pantry or fridge shelves, (they’ve been known to eat a full serving of dry spaghetti).
But, just like my toddler, when they’re not feeding themselves well, they become a bit of a disaster. One gets hangry and he’s no fun to be around while the other gets super sassy and nearly injures her brain with the intense eye-rolling that ensues.
Whether it’s a toddler or a teen, I can always tell within about five minutes if they need something to eat because when they aren’t feeding themselves well, they are no longer themselves. They lose all logic and reasoning skills–it’s like someone has gone in and taken control of their brains.
Feeding Your Brain
It’s not just my kids that have crazy reactions to hunger. Hunger affects us all and when it messes with your brain it most definitely will mess with your weight loss too.
According to the Huffington Post, hunger has a strong impact on your brain and behavior: It’s been shown to:
- Impact decision-making skills.
- Decrease willpower.
- Influence individuals to take more/higher risks.
- Change perception of the world.
- Promote poor food choices.
Getting rid of hunger is a major step when it comes to taking control of your brain, but what you feed your brain matters a lot more than you might realize. Food affects the way our brains function.
Feed your brain well and it will work better for you.
This TED-Ed video does a great job explaining how the foods you eat power your brain and it’s well worth the 4 min and 53 seconds it will take to watch. You’ll learn that
- Your brain is primarily made of fats (aka lipids).
- Amino acids, proteins, micronutrients and glucose make up the rest of your brain.
- Food can and does affect your feelings and emotions.
- Your brain needs good fats (Omega-3 and 6) to thrive and it can only get these fats through your diet.
- Trans and saturated fats are bad for your brain and may compromise brain health.
- Amino acids manipulate how you feel and behave and affect things like mood, sleep attentiveness and weight.
- Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables strengthen the brain’s ability to fight off free radicals and allow your brain to work well for a longer period of time. They also make us less susceptible to brain disease and mental decline.
- The brain gets its energy from carbohydrates-but it prefers the kind of carbs that are low in sugar and high in fiber (i.e. oats, grains and legumes).
- You food choices have a direct and long-lasting effect on your brain.
Best Brain Foods
There are a lot of foods that are great for your brain. In fact your brain operates better with a wide variety of foods in your system. The more natural those foods are, the better your brain will function. Nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, spices and herbs all offer great benefits, but there’s a few foods that deserve special mention because of their brain boosting potential.
Reader’s Digest suggests that some foods have the power to “protect brain cells, improve your memory, and even reduce your odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”
So… what should you be eating?
- Walnuts: Even though I believe walnuts to be a cookies worst enemy, I can’t deny the fact that they are good for your brain. (Maybe it’s because they kind of look like one). They’re loaded with Vitamin E which has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Eggs: Whether you like them runny or firm, egg yolks are full of choline, a nutrient that helps with brain development and memory.
- Blueberries: Dr. James Joseph, says we should “call the blueberry the brain berry.” That’s because blueberries help protect the brain, can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and they have been shown to improve learning capacity and motor skills in aging rats.
- Wine and Champagne: A glass of wine at the end of the day is great for relieving stress, but did you know can also help reduce the risk of depression and prevent dementia?
- Avocados: Sometimes avocados get a bad rap due to their high fat content, but they’re full of the best kinds of fats for your body and your brain. Those fats help protect nerve cells in the brain, prevent strokes and reduce seizures.
- Salmon (and other oily fish): Salmon is full of of omega-3 fatty acids which are your brain’s favorite fat. It protects neurons from injury, reduces swelling in the brain and helps you process information more quickly.
- Beets: Researchers at Wake Forest found that drinking beet juice increases the blood flow to the brain which improves mental performance and helps fight off dementia.
- Oats: Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can really boost your brainpower. Oatmeal is full of glucose which fuels your brain and gives you the ability for long-lasting performance and focus.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are the second most consumed vegetable in America and it’s a good thing because they’re great for your brain. That’s because they’re full of carotenoids which protect fats in the body. Since your brain is made up primarily of fats, that protection is essential for a healthy brain.
Brain Food Matters
What you eat has a lot more influence on your brain than you realize. It’s common knowledge that a poor diet can lead to physical issues like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even certain cancers.
However, a poor diet also increases the risk of mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Research has also shown that your diet directly influences your cravings, mood and even your memories.
What you eat plays a major role in how you feel, how you act and how well you’ll be able to stick to a weight loss plan. Feeding your brain should be as high of a priority as feeding your body because it’s your brain that will determine whether you fail or succeed at weight loss.
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