Our Lady of Weight Loss

Our Lady of Weight Loss

Eat and Be Happy: Foods that Boost Your Happy Neurotransmitters

Serotonin, Dopamine and Norepinephrine by Janice Taylor
As we head off to the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feasts of plenty, I thought it might be useful to know what foods bring forth the best feelings. Yes, foods change the chemical structure in your brain, and therefore have an impact on your mood.
It’s scientific! Research shows that nutrition or the lack thereof does alter the production or release of neurotransmitters. Serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters.
Serotonin gives us a feeling of calm and relaxation, a general sense of well-being. High levels of serotonin can cause a person to feel sluggish and drowsy. Low levels of serotonin can intensity food cravings.
Foods that release serotonin in the brain are: fruits, breads, grains and vegetables to a lesser extent.
Dopamine and norepinephrine increase our energy and level of alertness. Protein causes both dopamine and norepinephrine to be released in the brain. Foods that are connected to the release of these two neurotransmitters are: meat, chicken, fish, nuts, soy products, eggs and dairy products.
Including 3-4 oz of protein in your lunchtime meal may help you to stay alert and happy throughout the afternoon. (Imagine – no 3 p.m. slump!) On the other side of the coin, should you have trouble sleeping at night, you might limit your protein and increase your carbohydrates – particularly at dinner time (no, I did not say have cake; I am referencing the above list).
However, overeating, regardless of the amount of protein in the meal can cause lethargy and sleepiness. When we overeat, the blood flow is redirected to the stomach and away from the brain. The ideal amount of calories per meal is between 300 and 500 calories. This will keep your energy flowing, and your mood on even keel.
In addition, other ‘foods’ that have an affect on our brain are caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics and tend to dehydrate the body. And caffeine is a stimulant while alcohol is a depressant. A good guideline for sugar, especially for us sugar-addicts who experience the ‘sugar-high’ and ‘sugar-low,’ is to limit your consumption to less than 200 calories per day. That should help to eliminate the ‘sugar-blues.’
What about water? Yes, drink up, my friend.
At the end of the day, it’s all about good and balanced nutrition. As you head off to your holiday parties, family gatherings, remember … at the end of the day, it is all about good and balanced nutrition.
Make a beeline for the fruit platter instead of the fruitcake; increase your happy neuro-transmitters and enjoy!
A merry and a happy to you all!
Spread the word … NOT the icing!
Janice Taylor is a Life & Wellness Coach, author, seminar leader and 50-pound-BIG-Time-LOSER!
For more motivation and inspiration, join the Kick in the Tush Club: Beliefnet Chapter.
Pick up a copy of Janice’s latest: All Is Forgiven, Move ON ~ Our Lady of Weight Loss’s 101 Fat-Burning Steps on Your Journey to Sveltesville!
” . . . . kooky genius ~ see if her idiosyncratic diet plan will work for you.” ~ O, The Oprah Magazine
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  • Your Name

    Janice, you mentioned that “other foods which affect our brain are caffeine, alcohol and sugar.” There are some very popular products that contain all three of these indgredients: “alcopops” like MillerCoors “Sparks.” Fortunately a coalition of state attorneys general sued the brewer and in a recent settlement MillerCoors agreed to remove Sparks from the market. The major concern was that the upper (caffeine) masked how the downer (alcohol) affected drinkers — mostly teens who couldn’t tell when they were drunk. Anheuser-Busch made a similar settlement for its alcopop drinks. These drinks were aggressively marketed to underage drinkers. In the settlement the AG’s got the brewers to agree not to market to kids. All kinds of beverage, food and pharmaceutical products have higher and higher amounts of caffeine as a ingredient (even candy bars and chewing gum) Caffeine in these ever-higher amounts have serious health risks. The Ethic Soup blog has several good articles on the subject.
    Read the article “Sparks Caffeine-Alcohol Drink: Unethical, Dangerous, Removed” at:
    And, to read the article on Caffeine Facts, go to:
    Sharon McEachern

  • Jeanie

    Very interesting article today. I just never made the connection to keep meals between 300 – 500 calories.
    I am working and going to graduate school which has given me one bad case of vitamin D defeciency (dare I say, Rickts?) which has made me have to change the way I do everything now…during my very stressful last semester. I have to remember the milk and the sunshine ( I teach…who sees sunshine?) and the calcium…. and the physical therapy….
    So, just knowing to count to 300 or 500 makes this stressful life a little more simple. Bring on the neurotransmitters!

  • Your Name

    Is it possible to take a supplement such as 5-HTP in additional to food to increase the neurotransmitter level such as serotonin?? Does anyone know if this will help with food cravings??

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