Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Mood Food

What traditions do you have during the holidays?  If you are anything like my family, chances are a good portion of your traditions are centered on food.  I come from a HUGE family.  There are 8 of us, and when it comes to the holiday season, we can’t help but get excited over the influx of baked goods, hearty meals, and stretchy sweat pants to accommodate our growing plates. But this year, I am going to be taking a closer look at our food choices, thanks to a great article on holiday mood foods from Rodale. According to Rodale’s article, there are many common holiday foods that are lacking important nutrients, which can lead to heightened seasonal affective disorder.  Luckily, there are many healthy alternatives to keep your season merry and bright!  Below is a list from The Happiness Diet creators’ list of 11 foods that can bust your holiday mood.

·         Mood Buster: Although these simple treats look good on the outside (and on my family’s tree), it’s what on the inside that counts.  There are loads of sugar that can ruin your mood and cause weight gain—according to Tyler Graham, Dr. Ramsey’s Happiness Diet.
·         Mood Booster: DARK CHOCOLATE ORANGE SLICES are a great alternative because the citrus rinds have phyonutrient narginen, an anticancer compound, and the dark chocolate is anti-oxidant rich, which can improve blood flow to the brain and help you stay more focused. 

·         Mood Buster: Sure, this sounds healthy, but despite the myth that Agave is a natural sweetener, it can’t always be trusted.  Its excess fructose increases your risk of having a metabolic syndrome, setting the stage for brain shrinkage and mood instability.
·         Mood Booster: 100% MAPLE SYRUP (with no high-fructose corn syrup) or LOCAL HONEY because these both carry bonus minerals and plant antioxidants.

·         Mood Buster:  This traditional holiday entre is NOT worth keeping because it is full of sugar, salt, fillers, and nitrate preservatives (not to mention it comes from antibiotic-filled pigs).  All of this can cause low moods, migraines, swollen ankles, and even “cankles”! 
·         Mood Booster: WILD-CAUGHT ALASKAN SALMON has memory-preserving, mood-boosting omega-3 fats DHA and EPA.  Did you know that fish oil containing the same omega-3s found in wild salmon is just as effective as Prozac in treating depression?  If you’d rather stick to pork, opt for PASTURE-RAISED PORK LOIN, a top source of a B vitamin (thiamine) that is vital for nervous system functioning.

·         Mood Buster:  This could probably be relevant year-round since the average American drinks about 600 sodas a year!  Soda turns to fat inside the body, bringing our moods way down after the big sugar rush.
·         Mood Booster: SODA WATER WITH a little bit of ORGANIC FRUIT JUICE. This healthy replacement will taste great and make you feel good for having chosen the healthier option!

·         Mood Buster: For a while, scientists weren’t sure which was healthier, margarine or butter, but recently, studies show that the inflammation-promoting, industrial fats and the high levels of omega-6 fatty acids in margarine can tamper with your mood and insulin levels.
·         Mood Booster: PASTURED BUTTER (from grass-fed cows) has more conjugated linoleic acid (which has anti-cancer properties, brain-healthy omega-3, and has been shown to cut belly fat and lower your risk for heart attack).

·         Mood Buster: While raw pumpkin seeds you roast yourself are healthy, the processed ones purchased at the store are probably not.  They’re typically coated in a preservative called potassium bromated, blocking iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid.  This may cause the thyroid to stop working properly and push your mood down a slippery slope.
·         Mood Booster: RAW, HOME-ROASTED PUMPKIN/WINTER SQUASH SEEDS will help treat your body to good minerals and a natural antidepressant!

·         Mood Buster: They’re typically fried in oils full of omega-6 fatty acids that block omega-3 fatty acids from enhancing your mood.  Plus, frying potatoes naturally creates the carcinogen acrylamide, a substance of great concern.
·         Mood Booster: MICROWAVABLE POPCORN or BAKED RED OR BLUE-SKIN SPUDS.  The red/blue-skin spud skins are rich in phytonutrients ready to benefit your mind and body!

·         Mood Buster: Although I considered these “healthy” during childhood, bagels are actually packed with refined carbs that cause a huge energy crash and mood bust.
·         Mood Booster: ORGANIC, PASTURED EGGS that’ll keep you full and energized with B vitamins, zinc, and iodide for a brain and mood boost.

·         Mood Buster: Packaged, salted peanuts, though easy to serve as a snack at a holiday party, are high in sodium and have questionable food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), an artificial flavoring linked to migraines, weakness, burning sensations, wheezing, and difficulty breathing—not exactly what your holiday guests are looking for.
·         Mood Booster: A MIX OF omega-3-rich WALNUTS, vitamin E-rich ALMONDS, AND selenium-rich BRAZIL NUTS (selenium deficiencies are linked to depression and suicide) to keep up your energy.  If you’re looking for adding some flavor, toss in some rosemary and sea salt and roast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.  Interestingly enough, Rosemary is showing brain-protecting qualities in some research!

·         Mood Buster: I’m not familiar with this cooking ingredient—thank goodness— because it should be avoided for the same reason we should avoid margarine: omega-6 fatty acids block out the brain-building, mood-promoting omega-3 fatty acids that you should be getting.
·         Mood Booster: PASTURED LARD (as shocking as this sounds) because leic acid in lard is a monounsaturated fat linked to decreasing risk of depression.  The main saturated fat in lard (stearic acid) doesn’t cause heart disease, nor does it affect your cholesterol levels.

·         Mood Buster: Sure the words “sweet potato” make this sound naturally healthy, but this holiday dish carries multiple cups of sugar that negatively affect your brain process and mood just minutes after eating.  High blood sugar levels even cause your blood vessels to age, brain to shrink, vision and nerve function to suffer damage, and increase your risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
·         Mood Booster: NAKED SWEET POTATOES because they’re loaded with beta-carotene, a brain-protecting antioxidant used to create vitamin A.  This vitamin promotes the enzymes that create mood-regulating neurotransmitters like dopamine.  Better forms of vitamin A also come from butter and eggs from  animals raised on pasture, so add a little butter if you so desire!

Let us know what alternatives you can think of or how you keep the holiday mood soaring high all season long!  And if you feel it’s too late to use these health tips, New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner…

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~ Ivana
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