You’ve heard of keto, gluten-free, paleo, Atkins and south beach diets, but have you heard about the happiness diet? Aka- the dopamine diet?
I binge eat when I’m feeling sad, anxious, happy, stressed, tired… pretty much all the time. I’ve always been a pretty tiny person so I figured no harm, no foul. But what I didn’t realize, is that my bad eating habits were wrecking havoc on my mood. As many of you know, I’ve struggled with anxiety and even depression for most of my life. I’ve got my shit under controlish recently thanks to a mix of lifestyle changes and medication, but I still have times of emotional ups and downs. I sometimes experience days of feeling ‘down’. So, I started investigating how to improve my mood and I stumbled upon a very interesting diet- the dopamine diet. In my most recent post High On A Bad Romance, I talked a lot about the neurotransmitter dopamine, and it’s association with feelings of euphoria, happiness, concentration and motivation.
I developed a better understanding of my body’s hormones and how they affect our mood. So I found some healthy ways to increase dopamine levels, naturally! One of the best ways is through food and exercise. Yay to the food, meh to the exercise lol.
So What Is Dopamine And Why Is It So Good?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical that’s responsible for sending signals between nerve cells in the brain. It has a direct affect on the reward and pleasure areas of the brain, which is how it impacts your mood.
Drinking too much, feeling frisky, late night binge eating, can’t stop scrolling instagram, addicted to your social media, it all has a lot to do with dopamine levels. It’s released during things you enjoy and the feeling can be addicting, making you want it more and more. If we can find a healthy way to up our dopamine levels, maybe we can improve our overall wellness.
High dopamine levels increase your concentration and make you feel happy, motivated and blissful. Low levels can lead to anxiety, depression and irritability. This makes it easier to understand why people trying to kick one bad habit, find another way to get their dopamine. Like when people try to quit smoking and end up eating more. Eating always increases dopamine, but if you’re looking for your dopamine fix don’t reach for that bag of chips just yet. There’s a better way.
Your brain starts producing dopamine at the sight of food, the thought of sex, during exercise, or when you’re doing or thinking of pretty much anything you enjoy. It makes you feel good.
All eating produces dopamine, but some foods produce more than others. Sugary, starchy, ‘bad’ foods are a bad choice because they produce plenty of that feel good hormone, which makes eating those foods very addictive. This causes binge-eating and weight problems.
Foods rich in tyrosine help your body produce and regulate dopamine levels.
What The Heck Is Tyrosine?
Tyrosine is an amino acid building block of dopamine. Source
Although our bodies do a good job these regulating levels through our nervous systems, we can increase these levels naturally through our diet!
Tyrosine is found in meats and cheese and is used to increase your body’s production of dopamine. It’s also found in fish, eggs, bananas, probiotics, green tea, lavender, sesame seeds, soya beans, dark chocolate and almonds. So if you’re like me and you can’t quite kick your sweet tooth, go for the bag of chocolate covered almonds and get the best of both worlds.
Tyrosine Rich Recipes
Here are a few dopamine diet recipes rich in tyrosine and flavor!
I have teamed up with some amazing wellness bloggers to bring you Wellness Wednesday. Together with Andrea from Pine Tree Farmhouse, Shellie from ShellieLynn.com, and Michelle from Garden of Aquarius we will share with you our knowledge to help you live a happier, healthier life. Join us twice a month for some of the best information we can give you to from our journey to yours.
Michelle shares a homemade recipe for vanilla extract. Avoid processed foods, and make your own here Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe.
Shellie Lynn talks about improving your mood through your diet. Eating clean can make you a happier, healthier YOU! Read more about the 9 Plant-Based Foods That Will Boost Your Mood.
Andrea shares a yummy recipe for Rosemary Lemonade. A delicious way to boost your immune system here Cooking with Herbs and Herbal Rosemary Lemonade.