Fighting Holiday Depression with Food

December 16, 2019

In today’s show, we want to help you understand how you can use food and nutrition to beat your holiday depression and winter blues. We will share how your food choices affect how well you handle the extra stress the holiday season brings, along with why your brain needs adequate levels of vitamin D to avoid the winter blues.

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JOANN: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This morning since the holiday season is just upon us, we have titled this show “Fighting Holiday Depression with Food”. This is a very important topic for any time of the year, but particularly during the holiday season, so we want to help you understand how you can use food and nutrition to beat your holiday depression and winter blues. We will share some fundamental nutrition information that can you can use to either avoid getting depression or use it to relieve symptoms of depression or the winter blues. I wonder how many of our listeners know that their food choices and diet not only affects their physical appearance, their energy, their intellect, intellectual and creative abilities, but also their food choices and diet affect their mental health and their feeling of well-being. Today we will share how your food choices affect how well you handle that extra stress the holiday season brings. And we will also share why your brain needs adequate levels of vitamin D to avoid the winter blues and what an adequate amount of vitamin D is so you can really understand what you need. We will also share the nutritional secret of how to eat to make your brain chemicals, especially the neurotransmitters: acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin, which are all essential for this time of year. And if you're deficient in acetylcholine, you will lack the ability to stay focused, to concentrate or remember what you need to get done. You will meet friends at parties that you haven't seen since last year. Maybe you just won't remember your name at that moment. It will be a senior moment and even if you're decades away from being a senior citizen, that can still happen to you.




JOANN: If you are deficient in dopamine, you will not have the get up and go to enjoy the holidays. Everything will just be too overwhelming for you. So you will be saying to yourself, “I'm so tired. I just can't shop any longer. I'm totally overwhelmed with the thought of wrapping all these gifts. And how will I possibly get the gifts that I need to mail all boxed up and delivered so they can arrive on time for Christmas?” My name is Joann Ridout. I'm a Registered Dietitian, and after working for the past 30 years with clients, I really see the benefits of eating real food and avoiding processed foods for everyone's physical and mental health; not just for the holidays, but all year round. If you're feeling worried or anxious about getting through the holidays, stay tuned because you may find the answer to help you in this holiday show. Registered Dietitian, Carolyn Hudson is joining us today to share her wisdom about what to eat to avoid the holiday depression. Good morning.


CAROLYN: Good morning Joann, and good morning to all of our listeners. You know, it's really interesting to realize that nutrition is really a very young science. In fact, I looked it up. The very first vitamin was isolated less than a hundred years ago, Joann.


JOANN: Wow, that's amazing.


CAROLYN: So it really is a very young science. So of course, and I tell my clients this all the time: We don't know everything and that's why things keep seem like they're changing all the time, right; because we keep finding out new information. Of course, that's what science is all about. So after many decades it's finally… nutrition science is finally starting to gain some respect in the medical world. And I believe the medical community is just beginning to appreciate that we must begin putting the emphasis on prevention; the prevention of depression; the prevention of anxiety and memory loss rather than just using medications as the treatment for mental health. I really believe we need to start educating. Guess what? Our first graders; we really should be doing this at first grade.




CAROLYN: …on what foods should they be eating for good brain function? Cause I don't think people think about that at all.


JOANN: Nope.


CAROLYN: They don't associate food with their brain function, and why they need to avoid or limit some of those processed foods, the candy and the other treats that are full of sugar and bad fats. If we are going to turn this mental health crisis around our children really need to know how to feed their brain. Seriously, as a dietitian and a mother, I believe kids need to learn to eat sufficient natural fats. No more fat-free or low-fat dairy products, low-fat anything really, and they need to learn how to limit their sugar consumption. Now, Joann, let's get into some of that good brain chemistry.


JOANN: Yes, our food choices determine how well our brain cells will function, so because our brain needs essential nutrients to function well. Additionally, the other things that negatively affect our lives, such as stress, skipping meals, processed food, food additives; I'll throw alcohol in there too because that's rampant at the holiday time. But even air pollution, water pollution; all those negatives do not support good brain health or good mental health.


CAROLYN: Well, our brain is made up of 10 billion nerve cells. Yes, you heard me, right. 10 billion nerve cells, and they're all supported by the foods that we eat. So ponder this: Every emotion you feel, every thought you think, every decision you make are dependent on how well your brain functions and the nutrients or lack of nutrients that have fed your brain. So remember 10 billion nerve cells. We need them all firing.




CAROLYN: At the right time.


JOANN: Yeah.




JOANN: We do.


CAROLYN: So we have to feed our brain.


JOANN: So yeah, that's very true. And if you've been feeding your brain poorly and then experience some psychological or emotional stress, your brain tends to overact with anxiety or depression. So it was not the stressful event that caused the depression or anxiety reaction. It was the result of a poorly nourished brain.




JOANN: That's pretty amazing. It was the result of a poorly nourished brain.




JOANN: Not the stress event that you, that kind of tipped you over the edge.


CAROLYN: Yeah. We're not immune to this either, Joann.  I mean just because we're nutritionists and dietitians, you know, we get caught in our daily living.


JOANN: Right.


CAROLYN: And yesterday I was like kind of stressing out about thinking, “Oh my gosh. Christmas is around the corner. I haven't done this. I haven't done that.” And then I thought, “Oh, I must need some food.”


JOANN: Yeah, I got caught in traffic yesterday. I had the same experience. I got caught in traffic and it was just I needed to eat, so I was grabbing something out of my lunch bag. But it was just not enough.


CAROLYN: I was in a long line at a store.


JOANN: Sometimes you just can't get it quick enough.


CAROLYN: Exactly. So our energy, our drive, our ambition and our mental ability are all dependent on us feeding our brain correctly. So the foods you eat can increase or of course decrease your energy or your drive or your ambition or your mental ability; even your moods and your anxiety and depression as well. If you're struggling with one or more of these, think about what you are eating. Have you ever thought about that connection between your food habits and any of the things I just mentioned? You know, at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, as dietitians and nutritionists, we understand that everyone has challenges and setbacks in life and it is the health of our neurotransmitters that affect our ability to cope and keep going even when we are stressed.


JOANN: That's right. And the way to avoid holiday depression or depression at any time is to maintain healthy brain chemicals or those neurotransmitters. So what do you need to eat to maintain those healthy neurotransmitters? The best food source for producing all of your neurotransmitters is animal protein. When you drink a protein drink or eat a piece of chicken or a couple of scrambled eggs for breakfast, you are providing the building blocks for having healthy neurotransmitters. Often we grab cereal because it's fast or breakfast bars, muffins or bagels. They do not provide the protein to make building blocks for neurotransmitter production.


CAROLYN: So we're almost time for break here. So when we come back, we'll be talking about the biochemical process behind all of that. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And we are discussing “Fighting Holiday Depression with Food”. It is so important to keep your brain hydrated because even the slightest dehydration increases your cortisol levels, which are your stress hormones. And over time that can damage your brain. During this holiday season, measure out at least two courts of filtered water daily and drink it throughout your day. However, if you take a diuretic medication or drink soda or coffee, we suggest that you should be adding at least one or maybe two glasses of water each day. And we will be right back.




JOANN: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. How does a deficiency of vitamin D affect your brain health? Research featured in the Journal of Neurology links low vitamin D levels to a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The risk is 122% higher.


CAROLYN: Wow, that's amazing, isn’t it?


JOANN: It is. And a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reports that inadequate levels of vitamin D will double the chances of depression. That is really amazing.


CAROLYN: Yeah, and I don't know, you know, if we've talked later in the script, you know, or you know, when we were talking this morning, if we mentioned what we usually suggest for vitamin D level. We, I mean we tell our clients all the time that they should be getting their vitamin D level checked every year, especially those of us that live in Minnesota all year round, I guess, hey, I'm not, I'm not getting any vitamin D. So we’re going to talk a little bit more about that a little later in the script about exactly how much we recommend. So when, just before we were going to break, we were talking about that neurotransmitter production. So there's actually a biochemical process that occurs when you eat animal protein. The chicken, beef, pork or whey protein powder is broken down or digested into its parts; its amino acids in our small intestinal track. And then these amino acids are the key nutrient you need to produce a variety of healthy neurotransmitters.


JOANN: Yeah. And we're going to dig into the science a little bit more. So as this piece of meat breaks down and forms an amino acid, perhaps tyrosine, our body uses to support our thyroid function, and produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. So dopamine is crucial for us to experience pleasure and a sense of well-being. So it is the exact opposite of depression. We want to be making lots of dopamine.


CAROLYN: And again, we're doing this in our gut, right?


JOANN: Yes, in our gut; in our small intestine, so our starting with protein.


CAROLYN: Yeah. So another neurotransmitter that is made from animal protein is acetylcholine, which is essential for that verbal recall and memory. So try telling someone your thoughts and feelings when you are low in your neurotransmitters. You're going to find yourself stumbling over words or searching for the right words. And that's going to be really frustrating. It's going to frustrate you as well as the other person.


JOANN: That's right. And so now you have an understanding of how your brain makes your neurotransmitters and why they are so good for mental health. And shortly, we are going to suggest foods you can eat to support good brain function. These food ideas will give you positive thoughts and help you avoid holiday depression or those winter blues.


CAROLYN: So, but before we talk about how to eat to support your brain health, we have to mention what sugar does. We're always talking about sugar aren’t we Joann?


JOANN: Yes, we are.


CAROLYN: So neurotransmitters are the chemicals that go across the synapse, so, and that synapse is that little space between each one of the cells, and each neurotransmitter goes from one cell to the other. It leaves one cell and then goes into the next receptor. So receptors are like, picture it, like little doors that open up and allow that neurotransmitter into each cell. And what happens when you eat a lot of sugar, it blocks these receptor doors by putting a coating over them. And then that message is unable to get into the cell. So the door basically is closed and can't open. For example, if dopamine is unable to get into your cells, you're going to feel tired and depressed.


JOANN: That's right. And so how do you eat to avoid holiday depression? Or how do you eat to respond positively to the opportunity that comes knocking on your door, asking you to come out and play instead of covering your head with a pillow or staying up all night binge watching your favorite new TV show? Okay, let's talk about how to eat to avoid or manage depression or memory problems.


CAROLYN: So for brain chemistry and neurotransmitter support and production, I have clients start with yes, a balanced breakfast. Mom was right. It is really important to eat some type of protein for your brain like eggs or turkey sausage or steak, leftover pork roast or even a protein shake made with whey protein and some yogurt. So you have to have some of that protein to get those neurotransmitters started, right?


JOANN: That's right. And right along with the protein, the next food that is crucial for good brain health is a serving of beneficial fat. The brain basically consists of fat and water. So to combat depression, we recommend about a tablespoon of healthy fat such as butter, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, which is clarified butter, avocados, olives, nuts, almond butter, peanut butter, other nut butters, heavy cream and cream cheese. So there are lots of great options for those healthy fats.


CAROLYN: Yeah. And that tablespoon, that is a tablespoon every time you eat.


JOANN: Exactly.


CAROLYN: And a lot of our clients are shocked when we tell them that.


JOANN: Exactly.


CAROLYN: But if you think about our brain is a lot of fat, right?


JOANN: It is.


CAROLYN: So we've got to have good, healthy fats. So, and remember, sugar blocks those cell receptors, so those doors get closed. So you need to maybe avoid that cereal or muffins or those high sugar-flavored coffee drinks or donuts or bagels; cereal bars. And we recommend, you know, going to the plain yogurt; not that flavored yogurt and granola. That's, that's another high sugar food. So in place of those processed high-sugar foods, rather, eat some vegetables to supply vitamins and antioxidants. And like this morning I had a couple sliced tomatoes, two hard-boiled eggs, a little bit of mayo, good healthy mayo made with avocado oil. And I had a piece of a half a slice of a good dark pumpernickel toast.


JOANN: That’s right.


CAROLYN: It was yummy.


JOANN: Yeah, that's good. So if you're at a holiday party, how do you avoid those special Christmas cookies?


CAROLYN: Oh boy.


JOANN: Yeah, those are hard. The reason they taste so good is because they're high in sugar. One example I always think about is those Rocky Road bars made with chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallows and peanuts. So again, those are high in sugar. If we are thinking about our mental health and our memory issues, we need to go to holiday functions with this mindset: I will only choose nuts, olives, raw vegetables with some dip, maybe a nice salmon and cream cheese spread and perhaps one or two meatballs. I will choose mineral water rather than wine or hard alcohol. These foods and beverages are good for my brain health. So keep in mind the goal is to avoid holiday depression and to feel good the entire holiday season, not just feeling happier from a sugar or an alcohol rush. And we know that's short-lived.


CAROLYN: Very short-lived.


JOANN: And ends up backfiring and turns into increased depression.


CAROLYN: Yeah, I don't think that we can stress that whole alcohol thing enough, especially during the holiday season because every single party you go to it seems like there is alcohol, so really limiting that is going to be quite helpful. So and I see that we are ready to almost go to break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you have a teen, I think you should know the rate of depression in the ages of 15 to 44 is increasing at an alarming rate. You know, and as parents we know that what our teens are eating or drinking is not healthy. So I recommend having your teen meet with a Weight and Wellness dietitian or a nutritionist. Call (651) 699-3438 and set up a time for your teen.




JOANN: At Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we recommend having your vitamin D level tested each year. A brain-healthy level of vitamin D should be in the 50 to 80 range. Many of the lab ranges indicate 30 is sufficient, but that's actually just an average of people that mix in the low and the high.


CAROLYN: Right; right.


JOANN: So more recent research recommends a much higher level. To get more vitamin D, get out in the sun over lunch: pretty hard to do this time of year. But eat foods high in vitamin D such as salmon and take a vitamin D3 supplement. And in order to maintain an adequate level of vitamin D, most people need 3,000 to 5,000 IUs daily. And I've met with a lot of clients that are super, super low, like six or nine.




JOANN: And then they need to have 10,000 a day for probably about three months or so.




JOANN: …in order to get back up to where they need to be.


CAROLYN: Yeah. I tell a lot of my clients, you know, “Oh my goodness, you know, and you’re under 10. You definitely, we got to get that vitamin D level up as fast as we can; so none of this 1000 or 3000. Let's just shoot for the 10,000.


JOANN: That's right.


CAROLYN: …a day for a few months.


JOANN: And in Minnesota, we are so likely to be low in vitamin D because of our, because of our weather, we don't see the sun for so many months. So that increased risk of Alzheimer's is there.


CAROLYN: Yeah. Yeah. So, before we went to break, we were really kind of talking about avoiding that sugar and really alcohol really is a big issue as well. So when I'm helping clients who are struggling with low energy or depression, anxiety and obsessive thoughts, I encourage them to recognize that food is brain medicine. Just like Marcie said last week on the show, essentially when you eat right, you feel better. And guess what? You think better.


JOANN: Exactly. So if you're struggling with anxiety or depression or memory problems, it's best to develop the mindset of eating sufficient protein. So what is that? That might be a palm-sized serving of meat or about four ounces for women; about six ounces for men. And I say that because a lot of people think, “Oh, I'm getting enough protein.” But they really aren't even close.


CAROLYN: Right, right. I would say most of our clients are, they, yeah, they think that they're getting enough. And then I say, “Well, have you ever measured it? Have you ever weighed it?” And they’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I'm not getting enough.”


JOANN: Exactly. So in addition to that, the adequate beneficial natural fats that we talked about last time and at least a tablespoon of fat every time we have a meal and snack. So cream cheese or peanut butter or butter: that kind of thing; and several cups of organic vegetables every single day. When you eat these foods daily, you are consistently feeding your brain and that allows your brain to heal and have positive thoughts and behaviors. Eating real food nutrition one day, and then grabbing fast food or the office holiday treats several times a day; the next day is not going to support good brain function. So good real food nutrition gets good results and you've got to be consistent with that and you start feeling better.


CAROLYN: And a lot of times I tell my clients, “Why don't you try journaling some of your feelings or your mood,” or whatever. And then they start seeing the, the correlation between the days they're eating really healthfully and the days that they imbibe in the junk food or the alcohol or whatever it is. And that, you know, that helps them then go, “Okay, I am not going to do that again.”


JOANN: Exactly.


CAROLYN: So in fact, the American Heart Association says that women should limit their sugar intake to six teaspoons per day and no more than nine teaspoons daily for men. So one of those pumpkin spice lattes: that's going to be, you know, 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar. And that would put you way over your daily limit. If you have one of those Mountain Dews, depending on the size, it could it be anywhere between 12 and 19 teaspoons of sugar. And guess what? You've gone way over that limit. So at Nutritional Weight and Wellness for brain health, we recommend that you have no more than about three to four teaspoons of added sugar per day.


JOANN: I've had so many clients comment to me about when we talk about teaspoons of sugar that it really makes a vivid picture in their brain, even though you know, we probably feel like we're talking about sugar teaspoons all the time. But it really clarifies a picture. So now we're going to switch our discussion to another brain problem. And that's Alzheimer’s disease and the lack of quality sleep. That's huge.


CAROLYN: It is very, very big.


JOANN: A study at Boston University found that during sleep the brain goes through a self-cleaning process or a detox process that helps remove toxins. So on Dishing Up Nutrition, we have talked about the importance of getting at least seven and a half hours of quality sleep most nights for your mental health and also for your overall health. But the study found that it’s just as important not only to get enough sleep and then so at least seven and a half hours, but also the right kind of sleep.


CAROLYN: Right, right.


JOANN: So in order for the brain to detox, it's important to be in a deep sleep. Sometimes we hear of the REM sleep time. Otherwise, memory problems and the potential for Alzheimer's disease can occur. One thing to note here is if you're taking sleep meds or drinking alcohol to help you get to sleep, that can make you drowsy, but often you’re surface sleeping. And so the experts say you're not getting that deep REM sleep if you're using those surface sleeping using meds or alcohol to try to help you.


CAROLYN: Right. That Dr. Matthew Walker and Why We Sleep




CAROLYN: He really was emphatic about all of that.


JOANN: Exactly. Yeah, I remember that. Yeah. So if someone's snoring or your pet is waking you up several times during the night, it's important to find a solution for the snoring. Maybe earplugs; and the animals who wake you up throughout the night; you have to figure out a different arrangement.


CAROLYN: Exactly, exactly. So lack of sleep also… guess what: increases your sugar cravings and irritability. It decreases your energy so you have low energy and probably sad moods. So we would like to end our show today with the foods that support good moods and will help you avoid that holiday depression. So eat these foods to support good moods: So salmon, chicken, beef, organic eggs, full-fat cottage cheese; shrimp. So for the good neurotransmitter production, remember those proteins break down into amino acids and they combine with your gut bacteria and make your neurotransmitters, you need to eat at least three to four ounces of protein at least four times a day. Men probably need a little bit more than that too. So avoid those processed foods full of those bad fats, full of sugar and food additives.


JOANN: That's right. And so for good brain function, we want to eat a variety of vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and brussels sprouts. So we recommend at least one to three cups each meal. So last week, Dar and Marcie talked about eating whole foods, right?




JOANN: And so we have a great recipe on our website at It's one of my favorite recipes. It's called Hamburger Soup. It's full of grass-fed ground beef, a variety of vegetables and butter. And it's so good and you can just make it so simply in a Crock-pot. So it doesn't take a lot of labor. It doesn't take a lot of prep; just chopping things up and throw them in the Crock-pot; makes it super simple.


CAROLYN: Yeah, that's one of my favorite recipes also, Joann. So of course for good moods you need to eat that good natural fat. So like butter, coconut oil, avocados, olives, nuts, almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter; any of those nut butters and ghee, which of course is clarified butter. Please avoid the margarine, that Crisco, the deep-fried fast foods, soybean oil dressings, and all of those kind of factory-made foods, you know, things that are boxed or, you know, in the freezer section. A lot of those aren't very good. Many of them are made with those bad oils. And I also tell my clients, you know, eating out, you’re probably going to get exposed to some of those bad oils. So just be aware of that. So again, they're going to have those soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, or cottonseed oil. So we want to have as natural a fat as we can. So those extra-virgin cold-pressed oils: those are the good ones.


JOANN: That's right. And those, those bad fats, the refined oils and factory fats are actually, those are the foods that, you know, when you go to a restaurant and you're eating some of that bar food, that appetizer food, that's what those, it all contains that.




JOANN: Or even on a dessert tray, if you're at a party and you're looking at a dessert tray, how many people at home made those silly little things that are on that dessert tray? You know, generally those come store-bought. I mean there are probably a few people that are at home making some of that stuff, but not that many. A lot of them contain those factory fats, so that can be very problematic with the holiday foods.


CAROLYN: Yeah. Okay, Joann, it's almost time for our next break. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. This is December 14th, and in just one month we will be offering our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program at all seven of our Nutritional Weight & Wellness locations and of course online at Our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program is a real food program designed to support not only your body, but also your brain. And if you've been dieting and following a low-fat starvation diet, we really encourage you to break away from that deprivation cycle and eat real food to support your health and your metabolism. And we will be right back.




JOANN: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We know many people want to get back on track with their food in January, so I'm happy to say we have a responsible nutritional plan called Nutrition 4 Weight Loss. That includes 12 weekly classes that meet once a week and two one-hour appointments with a dietitian or nutritionist. The Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series will be taught at all of our seven locations and is also available online at So everything in our plan is based on real food that's designed to support your physical and your mental health. So sign up now and get the early bird discount so you can stop worrying about what you're going to do in the new year for your health. Sign up at or call (651) 699-3438 today.


CAROLYN: Yeah. Joann, that's such a great program. Oh, we have such success with that.


JOANN: We do. We see great success. And in fact, I was meeting with someone yesterday who's had a lot of great success and she was talking about how she got off her Prozac.


CAROLYN: Oh nice.


JOANN: And it took her a long time but this has been a process and it didn't happen just in a few months. It was a longer period of time. But you know, when she really learned to eat real food, she was gradually able to start getting away from some of that medication. That was a wonderful success story. So before we went to break, we were talking about going to a holiday party and looking at all of the foods that are there. And you know, what choices do you make? One of the things I do and I recommend is eating a healthy snack. I know you probably do the same, Carolyn.


CAROLYN: Oh, absolutely.


JOANN: And so, but one of my favorites, especially if you're going, it's an evening time and you're going to go to a holiday party and you know you're going to be faced with a number of sweet treats, I like to make a peanut butter and chocolate protein shake.


CAROLYN: Oh, that sounds like it would be…


JOANN: It feels like dessert. It fills me up and I'm not going in hungry and I kind of feel like I've already eaten my dessert.




JOANN: So I don't have that craving for sweets, so I just use a little bit of peanut butter, some Chocolate Fruits and Greens, protein powder and throw a banana in there, half a banana depending. But that works really well because it really fills you up and it, it tastes like a treat.


CAROLYN: Yeah. I tell all my clients: “Do not go to the party or whatever gathering you were going to hungry.” That is like a death sentence almost.


JOANN: Exactly.


CAROLYN: You know you're going to go down that rabbit hole and you’re not going to feel very good when you get back or the next morning. You know, you might have that sugar high for a little bit, but then you're going to crash and not feel very good at all.


JOANN: Yup. So what are the best foods to fight depression? Did you know depression levels are at all time high? And now mental health is striking people younger, younger and younger. So starting at the ages of 15 going through the forties and also, so that is a very common time that we're seeing depression be diagnosed, but also depression is going to be, is now considered the top cause of disability.


CAROLYN: That's amazing, isn't it?


JOANN: It really is.


CAROLYN: Yeah. Wow. So we’ve got to get a handle on this.


JOANN: We do. And we know that what we cook for our family and friends is the most powerful weapon we have to prevent this disease. So dietitians and nutritionists are not the only ones understanding the importance of food. Dr. Laura LaChance has identified the key nutrients that help with depression and developed the antidepressant food score.


CAROLYN: So, and I believe that the antidepressant food score by Laura LaChance was the first official look at food in great detail and it was just published last year. You know, she, she looked at nutrients as they relate to mental health and her study was actually published in the World Journal of Psychiatry. So at last I think psychiatry is starting to understand how food, what we eat, what we put in our bodies affects our mental health and how we think. So I went on to her antidepressant or looked at the antidepressant food score and some of the things that she was talking about, I think we, we have kind of known. We've already talked about the vitamin D, right?


JOANN: Yes. And of course some of the B vitamins are really, really important there: omega-threes; vitamin C. So what have we been talking about? Eat that, you know, cold water fish, right? That would be really good. Have a bunch of fruits and vegetables, a lot of those leafy green vegetables. Those scored really, really high. And of course, I think one of the seafood I remember that scored really high was oysters. So, you know, I don't think a lot of people are going to be eating oysters, but you can go on to that list and see how things are scored. But I think if you just listen to what Joann and I have been saying: eat real food, eat your proteins, eat your vegetables, have your good healthy fats; that's exactly what she has determined. And now I think it's really great. Psychiatry is starting to understand food affects your mental health.


JOANN: Exactly. So as you walk into your next holiday party, try to remember that food matters when it comes to your physical and your mental health. We must feed our brains right to provide protein, healthy fats, the vegetable carbohydrates. That protein is going to help us make those neurotransmitters for positive thoughts. And I was thinking earlier as Carolyn was talking about teaching our kids.


CAROLYN: Oh yeah.


JOANN: I always talk to my grandkids about this. They probably roll their eyes. Well, the 10 year old probably rolls his eyes a bit, but, but the four and five-year-old, my four and five-year-old granddaughters are just always hearing me say, “That's not very good for your brain.” Or, because they sometimes walk in with sweet treats that they've gotten elsewhere or “let's find you a healthy snack”. And they love turkey roll-ups. So I make them little turkey roll-ups with with mayonnaise and a pickle in the middle. Perfect. They love them. So I think that's some of their favorite snacks.




JOANN: And it really helps them get that message in their head about good fats; good healthy fats and good foods to feed the brain.


CAROLYN: You know, one of the things I did when my kids were growing up is I always had a snack bowl; mom-approved snack bowl in the refrigerator; sometimes it was on the counter if it was things that didn't need refrigeration, but they knew that they could go and grab anything from that snack bowl and it would be healthy, you know? And we know kids, you know, mine, my children are now all adults obviously and raising families of their own. But, they'll, if they learn this stuff early, then it's really, really helpful. And, and yeah, they do stray for a while, right? High school; college; but now I'm just so impressed by watching my son and daughter-in-law raise their daughter and seeing how they're feeding her. And so everything has come back and they're just like right on track: organic, natural fats. So it's really, really healthy.


JOANN: That's really good to see.


CAROLYN: So the bottom line, you know, really sugar and processed foods are really not your friend and certainly not your brain's friend. So to recap then, Joann, we talked about number one: teaching our kids young.


JOANN: Right.


CAROLYN: And then number two: with the protein, right? Protein breaks down to those amino acids and they combine with your gut bacteria and make those neurotransmitters. So you make neurotransmitters in your gut. And they're good for your brain.


JOANN: That's right. And so before going to a holiday party, makes sure you grab one of those good snacks.


CAROLYN: Yes. And have a healthy, natural fat, right?


JOANN: Exactly.


CAROLYN: That's really, really good. Limit your processed foods. And guess what? You really need to eat a lot of those veggies, don't you?


JOANN: But the veggies are a good way to get all that nice, those good dips, the cream cheese and the sour cream; a lot of ways to get those in: hummus, guacamole. That’s a way to get those things in.


CAROLYN: Yeah. So it's almost, it's time to wrap up here, Joann. So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful holiday season.

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