Happy Food Happy Mood

Thursday, 1 May 2014 - 7:15am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

There are certain foods that are potent anti-depressants if you eat them right. And these foods are none other than the yummy cookies, pastries and chocolates. Basically a meal loaded with simple readily digestible carbs. These foods raise the brain's level of a chemical called Serotonin, which is the very same target of modern anti-depressant medication.

The current approach towards carbohydrate and weight gain is, if we are gaining weight we should immediately and instantly restrict carbohydrate (like a human instinct of 'fight' or 'flight' response). But do carbohydrates require this kind of demonised reputation? Rethink your answer; because all your favourite foods are topped with a dash of carbs.

That one piece of chocolate, which every woman relates to and that one spoon of ice cream every individual desires, is purely a mood elevator on the perfect occasion or a feel good factor on one of your depressing days. Giving them up completely only makes one more irritable and snappy. So how do these carbohydrate-rich sugary foods give us an elevated feeling and a bowl of paneer or boiled chicken does not? Fast absorbing carbohydrates (like sugar, refined flours, jaggery, sweets, chocolates, pastries, ice creams, rice, etc.) are rich in amino acid Tryptophan.

With the ingestion of carbohydrates, the body reacts with a series of biochemical reactions, eventually converting Tryptophan into Serotonin in the brain which is a chemical that helps to maintain a "happy feeling," and keep our

moods under control. Well who doesn't want this feeling! But does that justify us eating cookies to overcome Monday morning blues or sit with a bucket of ice-cream after a long day of work?

The key is to eat the right foods, at the right time, in the right amount thus, naturally balancing the serotonin you need in your body. So, from my personal experience I have figured out how to just do this right. I suggest eat carbohydrates during the slag moment of your day, when the body naturally craves for it the most. A mid-morning meal, a post lunch bite or an evening snack. Food at any of these hours is comforting and soothing to our cravings making us feel good and not deprived.

If you ate a meal to satisfy your hunger, which can include guilty carbs justifiably, the sudden cravings would never occur. Unfortunately, most of the times, it is the 'quantity' and not the 'craving' that makes an individual gain the unnecessary kilos. Ideally, we should stop at one cookie but our want and unsatisfied appetite makes us eat three more.

So control and quantify your intake. Let carbs be your friend and Serotonin will become a healthy gift that will take you through your highest high and your lowest low.

Fast absorbing carbohydrates act as a mood elevator giving a "happy drunk" feeling. The question then arises, which is the better evil to be happy drunk on, sugar or alcohol? Hmm...we'll leave that discussion for some other time. Till then...Eat sensibly and stay healthy!

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