4 Feel Better Fast Food Strategies
One of the strategies we commonly use at Amen Clinics is to change our patients’ diets. We help them eat foods that nourish their brains and bodies— such as colorful vegetables and fruits as well as healthy proteins and fats—and eliminate, at least temporarily, all of the potential troublemaker foods that could be causing negative reactions in their bodies, such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, food additives and preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.
Strategy #1: Give yourself an attitude makeover.
Your attitude, or mind-set, may be the single most important factor in feeling better fast. When your mind-set is one of deprivation and your focus is on what you cannot have, you are more likely to remain mired in illness and brain fog. Yes, you may be giving up sugary fast foods and beverages you enjoy—which are often, by the way, pesticide-laden—but these are the very things that drive inflammation and illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, dementia, and early death. To feel better fast and make it last for a lifetime, it is critical to develop an abundance mind-set, where you focus on the high-quality, nutritious, and delicious foods you can have that build and sustain your health.
Strategy #2: Learn the Feel Better Fast Food Rules.
There are six rules, or guidelines, that will help you start to eat healthier. You may already be following some of these guidelines. The more of them you adopt, the better off your brain and body will be.
Concentrate On Consuming Brain Smart Calories
Calories do matter. If you eat more of them than you burn, you will definitely gain weight, as your weight goes up, the size and function of your brain go down. Yet the quality of your calories matters more than the amount. Contrast a 582-calorie meal of a large soda and a slice of pizza, which promotes inflammation, brain fog, and illness, with a 540-calorie meal of wild salmon, Swiss chard, sweet potato, and dark chocolate, which promotes good health.
Make (Zero-Calorie) Water Your Beverage Of Choice
Your brain is 80 percent water. Being dehydrated by just 2 percent impairs your ability to carry out tasks that require attention, memory, and physical performance. We recommend drinking about eight 10-ounce glasses of water a day. If you drink a glass of water 30 minutes before meals or snacks, you’re likely to eat less and still feel satiated. However, avoid drinking water with your meal, as it slows down digestion by diluting stomach acid. And try to limit consumption of anything that dehydrates you, including caffeine, alcohol, and other diuretics.
Eat Small Amounts Of Protein Several Times A Day
Think of protein the way you do medicine—that it should be taken in small doses with every meal and snack. Protein helps to balance blood sugar levels, decrease cravings, and burn more calories than eating high-carb, sugar-filled foods. Protein also provides your body with the amino acids it requires. Nuts, seeds, legumes, some grains, and vegetables contain some of the 20 essential amino acids you need. Fish, poultry, and most meats contain all of them. To the degree your budget allows, shop for animal protein that is free of hormones and antibiotics, free-range, and grass fed. It is more expensive than industrial, farm-raised animal protein, but it is a good investment in your health. Be careful not to overdo it on protein, as that can put an increased strain on your kidneys and promote inflammation. Somewhere in the range of 15 to 25 percent of your total daily calories is a healthy amount.
Make Friends With Fat
Fat continues to get a bad rap, even though good fats are essential to the health of your brain and do not raise your cholesterol. In fact, low-fat diets are bad for the brain. A Mayo Clinic study found that people who ate either a fat-based or a protein-based diet had a 42 percent or a 21 percent lower risk, respectively, of developing mild cognitive impairment and dementia, but those who ate a diet based on simple carbohydrates (think bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and sugar) had a 400 percent increased risk of developing these conditions. Fat is not the problem—sugar is.
Choose Healthy (High-Fiber, Blood-Sugar-Steadying) Carbohydrates
So-called “smart” carbohydrates are essential to life because they are loaded with nutrients, help to balance your blood sugar, and decrease cravings. Most vegetables, legumes, and fruits, such as apples, pears, and berries, that are low glycemic (unlikely to raise blood sugar) are smart carbs. High-glycemic, low- fiber carbohydrates steal your health because they promote inflammation, diabetes, and depression.
Women should consume 25–30 grams of fiber every day; men, 30–38 grams. High-fiber foods, such as broccoli, berries, onions, flaxseeds, nuts, green beans, cauliflower, celery, and sweet potatoes (the skin of one sweet potato has more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal!) have the added benefit of making you feel full faster and longer.
Fill Your Plate With Colorful Vegetables And Fruits
Colorful vegetables and fruits have tremendous health benefits. They provide an enormous array of the plant nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are necessary for good health. Plant foods also help prevent cancer and reduce inflammation, which contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, high blood pressure, and many other illnesses.
Strategy #3: Time your meals to get healthier.
If you have symptoms of low blood sugar, getting your diet right can make an immediate positive difference for you.
Strategy #4: Choose 20 foods you love that love you back.
To be successful at optimizing your diet, you must find foods you love, that love you back. We are creatures of habit and change can be hard. That is why you have to set yourself up to win. Do this by finding 20 high-quality, delicious foods and beverages, based on the rules outlined above. If you can find 20 foods, odds are you will be able to find 40, 80, 100, or more.
Make it Last
For more nutrition strategies, Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book “Feel Better Fast And Make It Last” is available to order, please visit here.
For more information on how SPECT imaging can help provide a customized treatment plan to help heal your brain, call us today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online to schedule a visit.