Part II: A Two Week Road Map to Happiness Via Your Belly

In my last post I talked about the connection between the gut and the brain, and how your enteric neuro-endocrine system (see last post if this term is eye-crossing), is affected by what you eat and then impacts your mood.

The reality is that eating refined sugar, preservatives, food dyes, other inorganic chemicals that are hidden in processed food, and even what I call “calorie-bombs” like fruit smoothies and bagels, whose simple sugars stream into your system at warp speed, is like waging toxic warfare on your gut.

And when your gut is unhappy, the neurotransmitters and hormones in your gut head off to your brain to make sure you are unhappy too.

If you are skeptical, try the following road trip away from your old food habits and see what happens to your outlook on life. Take two full weeks – enough time to acclimate – and cut out the toxic.

This means strictly avoiding all foods that come in plastic-wrap, tinfoil, cans, frozen containers, and airtight bags, and any other foods that have the capacity to sit in a fridge or on a shelf for more than a week without spoiling.

This does not apply to dried goods like whole-wheat pasta or quinoa.

This does apply to ice cream, canned soup, frozen dinners, any type of chips regardless of whether they say “healthy” or “baked” on the label, “energy” and “protein” bars, deep-fried foods, and drinks other than water or unsweetened tea.

This also applies to alcohol of any kind, and recreational drugs if you use them habitually.

If you’re wondering what’s left to eat, don’t freak out.

Step 1: Go to epicurious.com and write down some recipes that contain kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, endive, turnips, and beets.

Step 2: If you’re someone who feels better eating meat, for these two weeks limit yourself to wild-caught, non-heavy metal-burdened fish like salmon, trout, and sole. Or go for cage-free vegetarian-fed chicken from your local farm if you must.

Step 3: Add some new whole grains into your diet like wheat berries, quinoa, steel-cut slow-cooking oats, and wild rice. Note: instant oatmeal has the fiber cooked out of it so avoid!

 Step 4: Make sure the only sugar you eat comes pre-packaged by Nature. This means tomatoes (organic ones in-season are sweet!), sweet potatoes, apples, pears, and carrots. Local and seasonal are better for your body, because we all evolved adjusting our meals with the seasons – Nature knows what she is doing. But, if you miss the tropics, bananas and mangoes make great desserts.

If you need a sweetener use a bit of raw honey, which is medicinal, pro-digestive, and pro-fertility. Avoid it if you have a lot of inflammation in your body as it is heating.

Step 5: For fats, cook with olive oil, or ghee (clarified butter). Dress your salads with flax oil and sunflower oil as a base. Snack on raw unsalted almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds just a few at a time.

Step 6: Add some love. Avoid foods make in unhappy places by unhappy people. Their energies are pervasive and affect the energy of the food you eat. Instead make your own food for two weeks and be sure to send it some positive thinking as you prepare and eat it, because it’s going to BE you soon enough.

Each day notice how you feel having changed your diet, and write it down. When you crave a beer, go for a walk and drink a glass of water. Start to notice when your instinct is to eat for emotional reasons, boredom, or in response to stress. These two weeks might undo some of those impulses.

Most of all, notice if the way you see the world – or react to life – has shifted at all. You can always go back to your old way of eating.

In the long run two weeks will blow by while you give this plan a shot. Your happiness is worth it.

 – Dr. Robin

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