You are what you eat. Simple, right? It is until you see the assortment of treats laid out during the holidays. Or the rows of donuts calling your name when you buy a coffee. Saying no to empty calories is challenging, saying yes to healthy calories shouldn’t be. I think the easiest way to remove empty calories from the diet is to remove the temptation in the first place. Saying no at the market makes the rest of the week less torturous at home.
I’ve mentioned before my concern about brain health, with people in my life struggling with dementia that was hammered home during the holidays. So doubling down on brain food makes a lot of sense. But it’s not just for the long term, eating the right foods now also enhances your mood and overall fitness. I’d call that a triple play worth betting on.
A search on food that is good for your brain health nets you many results, but the following are common across most lists:
Broccoli, walnuts. dark chocolate, blueberries, turmeric, pumpkin seeds, avocado, beets, sage, tomato, green tea, eggs, coconut oil
A similar search on food that enhances your mood offers the following results:
Salmon, eggs, dark chocolate, almonds, avocados, bananas, lentils, blueberries, green leafy vegetables, coffee, green tea, oysters, quinoa, cottage cheese, broccoli, grapes, bell peppers
So the takeaway is that I’ve been eating most of these foods already (maybe that’s why I’m usually in a good mood?), but doubling down on the ones that appear on both lists is logical. But wait! There’s more! Another bonus; most of the same foods appear on the list of heart healthy foods too. Knowing how much Omega-3 and phytonutrients, magnesium, fiber and assorted vitamins to add to your diet is cumbersome for me. I only have so much room at the mindfulness inn to invite guests like that on a daily basis. But eating grilled salmon instead of steak? Easy. Coffee and dark chocolate? Are you kidding me? I think I’ve got that one covered. Just about the only one that I’m not consuming regularly is turmeric, and that can be solved with adding it to a smoothy or a cup of tea in the morning.
The flip side is also important. What will you say no to more often? And the obvious answers are red meat, fried food, beer, cheese, sugar and bread… Damn. Nothing I don’t know already, but a couple of those are regulars on my dietary stage. Cheese and crackers and a handful of M & M’s have been dancing in my stomach since Halloween. Which directly correlates to the scale flatlining since I’ve increased my daily exercise. The accepted trick is to make these things an occasional treat. Having a cheat day when you can eat all of the junk you’ve been saying no too, but also some of the delicious foods you love that don’t play nice with the vital organs, is important. If nothing else it keeps you sane. And what’s the point of having good brain health if your diet makes you crazy?