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Happy Food

So…how many snacks is an acceptable amount during a Quarantine day?  Honestly, it feels like 87 some days and I’m definitely needing a padlock on my pantry and fridge at times.

The truth is, though, particularly in testing times like these, food is a trigger for happiness and it’s  only normal that some of us may be seeking a level of happiness given the change in our everyday rhythm.

Here’s the scientific reason why food makes us happy:

There are two types of neurotransmitters that are responsible for our moods: inhibitory and excitatory. Excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate our bodies and minds.  Inhibitory neurotransmitters exert a calming influence on our minds, in part by counteracting the effects of excitatory neurotransmitters. Ultimately, the best moods are found when there is a balance between these two types of neurotransmitters.

These mood-affecting chemicals are created by compounds found in food, and some foods are better at helping neurotransmitter production than others. I’ll call these “happy” foods.

However, let’s get something clear before we move on.  There’s a big difference between foods that contain compounds that can physically affect your brain chemistry (“happy” foods) and foods that just make us feel good (“comfort” foods).

While the former affects our physiology, the latter provides happiness on a psychological level.

So should we use food to keep us happy? Absolutely!

Here are my top tips (always open to discussion of course):

  1. Always eat as fresh and as clean (i.e. spray free, or organic) as you can afford.  Your body will thank you for not having to sift through chemicals.

  1. Choose foods that will nourish you and try not to waste your caloric intake on foods which will do nothing for your physiologically.  It’s nice to indulge in comfort foods sometimes, but many times this leads to a pretty poor physiological result after the initial feel-good rush, which makes us feel uncomfortable.

  1. Take an extra minute to present your food in a lovely way that makes it look more appealing to yourself and also to whoever you are cooking for.  Aesthetics play a huge role in delivering happiness and there is so much to love about fresh produce. Think about the star shape of apple seeds, the curiosity of pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top a salad, the pizza shapes within a slice of lemon or lime, the gorgeousness of a bowl of mixed berries, the cuteness of a pod of peas or the lushness of a fresh bunch of herbs or lettuce – just to name a few of my favorites.

Whether it’s psychological or physiological, it’s clear that foods have a powerful effect on our moods. It would appear that eating only nutrient-packed foods that affect brain chemistry might be the best way to achieve happiness, but the occasional indulgence should make you just as happy.

Perhaps, a healthy balance of nutritious foods and comfort foods can help maintain the balance in a person’s mood best of all.

Look out for my recipe blog later on this week for a beautiful fig (they are so aesthetically perfect when cut open!) based recipe that always brings me joy!

In the meantime, make sure to choose wisely as you work your way through your COVID19 snacks and hopefully, you’ll see that once your body feels good physiologically, it will actually stop looking for food because it is satisfied.

Have a great week!


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