Like most kids growing up in single-parent households, I had a lot of unstructured time in which to get into trouble. And my kind of trouble was junk food.
I didn’t pull fire alarm bells, I pulled Taco Bells. I didn’t run with the juvies, I ran with the Friendly’s. Burger King was my gang leader, and Pizza Hut was my hangout. But running with this dangerous crowd not only turned me into a fat kid, it turned me into a depressed kid as well.
Turns out my fast-food diet, with all those processed chemicals and hardly any nutrients, was throwing off my body’s feel-good chemistry. Drew Ramsey, M.D., co-author of “The Happiness Diet,” says that eating the wrong foods can add to our daily stress and make us feel anxious, lethargic, and downright grouchy. (The all-new Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide can help you with thousands of smart food swaps.)
What’s worse, a diet that deprives our brains of much-needed “happy” nutrients also makes us fat. When you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to reach for high-calorie junk foods that pack on the pounds, fueling a never-ending unhappiness cycle that goes like this: You eat bad, then you feel bad, so you eat worse, and then you feel—you guessed it—even worse.
But, Dr. Ramsey says, there’s an easy, drug-free way to boost your spirits and shrink your belly: brain food. Yep, feeding your brain with the right nutrients—found in these 11 simple foods—is all you need to do to improve your mood, boost your energy, and keep your hands out of the chip bag for good.
NUTRITION 101: Did you know that potato chips and french fries are the two most waist-widening foods you can consume, according to Harvard University? For more slim-down tips like this one, follow me on Twitter!