A Reader Speaks About the Happiness of a Good Diet

Every household has its own “nutritional gatekeeper.” It’s the one person who does most of food shopping and makes the critical choices that help determine the physical and mental health of everyone in the house. To get more brain food into each American’s diet, we need to reach the gatekeepers. That’s why I love the email below, sent by a mom in Ohio who used The Happiness Diet to improve her whole family’s eating habits.

And since I was raised in rural Indiana, I’m especially glad to learn of someone finding great happiness foods in the Midwest. It’s easy to get the misperception that all the healthy, organic food trends are popular only on the coasts. The truth is that, with a little effort, you can find great farm-fresh organic happy foods just about anywhere. Use the Find Food feature on this website, and you’ll see what I mean!

Also, make sure to check out Lisa’s recipe for Blue Moon Shakes!

Lisa from Ohio, writes:

I not quite sure why I decided to pick up “The Happiness Diet” while browsing the new titles section at our local library. I never read diet books. I don’t believe in dieting. However, something about the book caught my eye. The information inside caught my mind!

My family is accustomed to seeing me read books and occasionally spouting off information which I find interesting. Most of the time my ramblings and mutterings are completely ignored. This time was different. My youngest son latched on to the grossest facts from the book. “Beaver anal glands” became a catch phrase followed by a shriek whenever we we read the ingredient labels listing “natural ingredients”.

As a family we made a pact, although somewhat reluctantly on the part of the youngest members, to cut out all refined sugars and “bad” fats from our diet. We were already making our own bread using another great book called “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. & Zoë François. High fructose corn syrup had been banned years ago. We did not drink soda or keep sweets in the house. Honey, maple syrup and butter were staples of our diet. The hardest part was learning that sugar, other than honey and maple syrup, is bad for you. Harder still was learning how to shop for groceries in a less healthy region of the United States in the middle of Winter.

Armed with the list of items recommended in the book, I scoured our local grocery stores and further afield. I found that my time shopping was doubled as I looked for the USDA Organic label, sought pasture meat and dairy, located affordable bottles of olive oil and local organic honey.

My reason for going into this battle? Well I had been thinking of the people in my family who have developed health problems. I thought about my battle to regulate my thyroid and lower my weight. Even though I believed that I was feeding my children a healthier diet, I was still concerned about my teenage son and 9 year old’s mood swings. My teen mentioned that he was depressed and often yelled at me for showing concern over his grades. My 9 year old would have throw tantrums for no apparent reason. Why? I wasn’t feeding them junk food. Most of our meals were completely homemade. There had to be some reason.

Well no matter the amount of time I was taking to make wonderful, mostly homemade meals, there was still refined sugars and bad fats in our food. For over a month, we have been eating completely homemade foods with no refined sugars or bad fats. We are no longer taking multiple vitamins or eating processed foods. The difference in how we feel is incredible. We have more energy. My husband and I are losing weight slowly, but surely. The kids are not fighting as often and my oldest son’s face is clearing up.

It is a struggle to find the foods that we need and want to eat to stay healthy. Not every item has been a hit. Red wine, green tea and raw oysters are not on my happy list! I had to play around with turmeric. No one likes the smell of the turmeric when it is cooking, but it makes the brown rice a beautiful yellow color and the taste is not unpleasant to the palette. Shopping, cooking and baking is now an adventure rather than a chore to be dreaded. Fortunately I am a homemaker, so I have the time to concentrate my efforts on eating healthy. My best advice to those who can’t stay home or even those who can is to plan a day to prepare foods with your family. You can make up oatmeal, rice, beans, soup and other items ahead of time. Freeze some and put the rest in the fridge. My kids love to eat beans and rice for a snack (we recently learned about beans and rice together being a complete protein).

Our next fun family project is to make our own chocolate using virgin coconut oil, cocoa, nibs, honey and walnuts. Should be terrific with a glass of local non-homogenized, whole pasture milk!

I am 45 years old, 5’4” and 156 pounds. I never struggled with my weight until after my second child I have always been active. I walk several times a day. I was diagnosed with low thyroid before conceiving my first child and have taken supplements ever since. The problem is that although I took the supplements, I was not taking them properly and was therefore prone to HUGE mood swings. I feel better now, but I still could not understand why I lacked energy. I have had times that I felt depressed, but not since I started eating better. I also had issues with anger. I don’t feel unreasonable anger anymore.

Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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