WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE GOOD MOOD KITCHEN?
I first wrote Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health, which was intended for clinicians. After it was published, I heard from so many enthusiastic therapists that they wanted a book they could give to their clients to use, or to their friends, that was not so heavily clinical. That became the inspiration along with always being excited to develop and test new recipes that are healthy while positively altering our mood.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A READER CAN LEARN FROM YOUR NEW BOOK?
That nutrition-in the form of both food and nutritional supplements-can improve mental health and that often mental illness is due in large part to chronic exposure to poor quality foods and the excitotoxins in them. The Good Mood Kitchen provides a map to sort through these questions of how food can harm, or how it can be medicine for the mind.
WHAT IS ONE PRACTICAL STRATEGY THAT READERS CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK TO IMPROVE THEIR DIETS AND MENTAL HEALTH?
The new model of depression is inflammation, and poor quality foods cause this chronic low-level inflammation that can contribute to depression as well as pain. The first practical strategy is to increase the intake of anti-inflammatory foods. This includes the use of good quality fats like extra virgin olive oil, butter, or coconut oil, and the elimination of poor quality fats and oils.
WHAT IS ONE POPULAR MYTH ABOUT THE FOOD WE EAT THAT THE GOOD MOOD KITCHEN ADDRESSES?
There are a number of myths: one myth is that fat is bad for you. The other myth is that cholesterol is bad for you and this leads to poor advice, like avoiding avoid cholesterol-rich foods like eggs. Both these ideas are myths based on bad science. The brain is mostly fat and needs good fats to function. Eggs are just about as perfect a food as there is; rich in choline which supports brain chemistry and memory.
WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO READERS WHO’D LIKE TO CHANGE THEIR DIETS BUT HAVE LIMITED TIME TO PREPARE MEALS?
I have many clients who ask me this, and this is why I wrote this book. We don’t often have time to prepare elaborate meals. I provide lots of recipes that can be made in a slow cooker, where a whole meal can be prepared in just 15 minutes and then be ready 8 hours later after work or school. I also suggest that people spend just a few hours each week preparing food for the whole week, and give suggestions about how to do. I show how to make salad jars and brain boost salad dressing for the week.
WHAT IS THE “BRAINBOW” DIET? HOW CAN READERS USE IT TO ESTABLISH A BALANCED DIET AND BALANCED LIFE?
I developed the brainbow concept for my clients to obtain their nutrients based on foods from all the colors of the rainbow. It is designed to support good mood and brain health. Rather than think about this vitamin or that nutrient, eating both raw and cooked foods from all the colors of the brainbow will help you reach your goal of a good mood. Also, the brainbow diet provides information about what foods are best eaten cooked and which should be raw. For example, spinach should always be organic and generally be eaten only cooked.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE LARGEST OBSTACLE FOR PEOPLE IN ATTAINING A NUTRITIONAL AND EMOTIONAL BALANCE?
Achieving nutritional and emotional well-being takes some time, and people often are not convinced it will be worth the effort. But, the “proof is in the pudding” (a sugar fee pudding, of course!). Healing and staying healthy naturally takes more time, but it is also longer lasting. We are conditioned to the “quick fix” but most of these fixes-usually in the forms of drugs or medications-just suppress the symptoms. In the approach I offer, I address the nutritional and dietary causes of mental distress. The investment of a bit more time will last a lifetime.
CAN YOU SPEAK TO WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR EACH PERSON TO HAVE AN INDIVIDUALIZED DIETARY PLAN TO ACHIEVE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH?
Think of the kind of car that you drive: some cars take diesel fuel, others hum along on 97 octane, and some are high performance and need special additives.
We are all biologically unique, and if we put the wrong “fuel in our cars” (that is, our bodies), our engines will not work. Each of us will function best with specific types of foods and ratios of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Without knowing this and acting on it, we may feel OK but never great, or our mood may be very low, leaving us to wonder why. We are biochemical beings and nature understands this well, which is why there is so much diversity of foods and flavors around the globe. What is good for an Inuit in Greenland is not the same as what is good for an Ibo in Nigeria. We carry the genetic codes of our ancestors that inform what food is medicine for our brain, and what may be poison.
WHAT ARE THE FIVE BEST FOODS FOR IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH?
It’s hard to choose just 5, but here is a start. . .
Dark Chocolate (with no sugar)
This is the essential dietary road map for anyone interested in improved mental well-being. An excellent complement to Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health, it can be used on your own or with a clinician. Explore tasty, life-changing ways to eat healthier—and happier!