If you’ve ever found yourself reaching for potato chips or chocolate on a bad day, you’re not alone. The reward is a satisfying pick me up. The punishment is that sense of failure that triggers — you guessed it — more snacking. The cycle can be hard to break. Turning to food for reasons other than physical hunger is often at the root of weight control issues and poor diet.
But don’t be too hard on yourself. The cravings could be due to a chemical imbalance in your brain. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters, chemicals that allow communication within the brain. Low levels of these neurotransmitters can result in sleep disorders, depression, weight gain, poor attentiveness, delayed reaction times and addictions.
Increased levels of serotonin and dopamine help to increase alertness, ease tension, regulate mood and aggression, and create an overall sense of wellbeing. Studies show a link between diet and the production of these neurotransmitters. While health concerns should be discussed with a medical professional, there are some natural remedies you can explore to help give you the boost you’re after.
Instead of cutting out carbs completely, incorporate a healthy complex carbohydrate such as brown rice or whole grain pasta. Turkey, oil-rich salmon, cottage cheese and nuts provide important proteins, while bananas, avocados and watermelons deliver vitamins. They all stimulate the production of these valuable neurotransmitters. The next time you’re feeling down, listless or drowsy, consider what your brain is truly hungry for and reach for some REAL comfort foods!
FUSILLI WITH BROCCOLI, GARLIC AND ANCHOVIES
4 SERVINGS | PREPARATION 20 MINS
» 2 tbsp butter
» 4 cups fusilli pasta
» 6 garlic cloves, chopped finely
» 10 canned anchovies, drained and chopped
» ¾ cup virgin olive oil
» 1 lb broccoli, trimmed and cut in spears
» ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
TIP: Looking to skip the carbs? Garlic and anchovies sauteed in olive oil and butter make a wonderfully piquant dressing for crisp, steamed broccoli or for raw or blanched florets.
Fill large pot with water and 1 tsp salt; cover and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Add broccoli and cook for 3–5 minutes or until barely tender and pasta is tender but firm. Drain and return to pot.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, and sautee the garlic until softened but not browned. Stir in the anchovies, and cook for 1 minute.
Gradually add the olive oil, stirring constantly, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Pour the anchovy sauce and cheese over pasta mixture, stir to combine and serve at once. Have a loaf of crusty bread on hand to soak up the extra juices!