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Managing Your Mind and Mood through Food

Managing Your Mind and Mood through Food

by Judith Wurtman, Margaret Danbrot (With)

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Revolutionary and scientifically sound news about the food/mind/moodresponse from a renowned M.I.T. scientist who explains how to enhancedaily performance dramatically through diet

In this breakthrough book, Dr. Judith Wurtman explains how what we eat and when we eat it affects our moods, minds, and lives. Translating her findings into practical programs,


Revolutionary and scientifically sound news about the food/mind/moodresponse from a renowned M.I.T. scientist who explains how to enhancedaily performance dramatically through diet

In this breakthrough book, Dr. Judith Wurtman explains how what we eat and when we eat it affects our moods, minds, and lives. Translating her findings into practical programs, she reveals what foods can prevent afternoon slumps; increase productivity; help us carry on with activities after work or work through the night, calm stress and anxiety; and aid sleep. At the heart of the book are her guidelines about how carbohydrates and proteins interact in the body, and how to use this knowledge to set your own food/mood clock. In addition, Dr. Wurtman shatters many of the common myths about food, showing how to take advantage of caffeine, sugar, and carbohydrate snacks to increase productivity, and includes a test used at M.I.T which enables readers to explore their own food/mind/mood response. This book shows you how to eat to:

  • Beat stress and fatigue at work
  • Have a faster, more focused mind
  • Avoid mood swings that lead to erratic, out-of-control eating
  • Set your own food/mood clock to perform at your peak
  • Boost energy for morning, afternoon, or evening activities
  • Stay alert through marathon meetings or long evenings
  • Fly through time zones and arrive feeling first-rate by using revolutionary anti-jet lag tactics...and much more

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The brain has three neurotransmitterschemicals that pass on bits of information through electrical impulsesthat it manufactures from components of foods we eat. Two, dopamine and norepinephrine, are alertness chemicals that make us feel more attentive and mentally energetic. The third, serotonin, is a calming chemical that eases tension and stress, and enhances concentration. Wurtman, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's department of applied biology, has written an interesting, well-organized book that explains which foods will produce the amino acids necessary to make these chemicals, and how to combine and schedule meals to relieve stress and achieve maximum concentration and alertness. The book includes the test used at MIT, which will enable readers to explore their own food/mind/mood responses. The work is not intended as a weight-loss diet (though Wurtman is the author of The Carbohydrates Craver's Diet and Eating Your Way Through Life, but since fats are discouraged and sensible amounts of proteins and carbohydrates are advised, a reader who follows the book's suggestions may lose weight as well. (November 6)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Do you want a more alert, more focused, more productive mind?

Do you want to be able to calm down, unwind, and relax at will...even get to sleep on demand?

Do you want to ease feelings of stress or anxiety and enhance your overall sense of well-being?

Whether you are striving for personal or professional excellence or both, I'm going to assume that your answer to all of the questions above is an enthusiastic, unqualified yes! And in the chapters that follow I will tell you everything you need to know to achieve all of these benefits, and more.

As a research scientist at M.I.T., as well as in my private practice, I have helped thousands of people to maximize their performance, power their brains, and manage their moods. The simple, proven techniques that have changed their lives for the better can do the same for you.

You will learn how food can help you bounce back when mental lethargy or a loss of enthusiasm dampens your ability to get things done, and how to compose yourself when edginess or distractibility threatens to interfere at work, at play, or in your relationships with others.

You will learn how food can help you focus your mind when the situation calls for clear thinking and creative problem-solving — and how to quicken your responses when speed is of the essence.

You will learn how food can help you ward off "brain fatigue" so you can stay up late to finish a report or study for an exam, and still perform at your peak thefollowing morning. You will also learn how the right food can help you deal with the feelings of frustration and anxiety that lead to overeating and weight gain!

In short, you will learn how to use food to shift at will from a state of mind that works against you into one that works for you! And you can learn to make these mood changes occur almost instantly, without investing in long hours of therapy and without drugs — in fact, with practically no effort on your part other than following the easy-to-use guidelines in this book.

You already know from personal experience that whether you are up or down, calm or agitated, focused or distracted, the way you feel can make all the difference in how successfully you work, study, create, play, and interact with others.

But you may not have been aware of how many of the foods you eat affect those moods and behaviors. Though the results of studies linking food intake to mood and behavior — projects carried out at M.I.T., at the Harvard Medical School, at the National Institutes of Health, and at other prestigeous research centers — have appeared in many of the specialized scientific publications and medical journals, little of this information has been widely reported in the popular press.

Nevertheless, research done by my colleagues and me at M.I.T. and elsewhere confirms that certain foods have a number of previously unsuspected capabilities.

Simply put, some foods influence the production and function of chemicals in the brain that are directly involved in determining mood, mental energy, performance, and behavior. Some foods increase mental alertness, speed, and accuracy and will tend to make you feel more motivated and energetic. But these same foods, eaten under different circumstances, can also produce feelings of tension and irritability. Other foods are natural tranquilizers that calm feelings of anxiety and stress. However, depending on certain factors, such as the time of day when they are eaten, these foods can also make you feel slowed-down, sluggish, even sleepy.

Further, mental states can be modified — usually within half an hour or less — when an "antidote food is eaten. For example, a calming food will counter a hyper, nervous, or anxious state. An energizing food will offset "brain drain" and sleepiness.

What makes all of these new findings so significant is that the foods capable of producing these remarkable mood and behavior changes are not little-known, rarely encountered exotica. They are the normal, ordinary foods most of us enjoy every single day of our lives and can easily find in our supermarkets.

In my work as a researcher in many of the food/mind/mood studies, and as a nutritional counselor with my own private practice, I have been in a unique position to test and retest the new theories, both in the lab and with real-life people in real-life situations. I was able to take the results of my laboratory work at the M.I.T. Clinical Research Center and immediately use them, when applicable, with private clients. Feedback from clients often inspired my colleagues at M.I.T. and me to move into new areas of investigation, and the results of these new experiments could then be reconfirmed with clients.

This shuttling back and forth between tab, clinical work, and private practice — comparing scientific data with the responses from patients and clients — allowed me to develop and then fine-tune dozens of simple, practical, and effective applications for the new food/mind/mood findings.

From the beginning I was convinced that the research we were doing was important and would have many exciting, even revolutionary implications. But even I didn't anticipate how useful it would turn out to be.

For example, in working with clients, I discovered that the creative ones who frequently claimed they could do original thinking only at certain times of day suddenly were able to "work smart" whenever they wanted to if they adhered to our suggestions for meals and snacks. Business people were able to maintain that all-important competitive edge if they ate according to these instructions. Academics and other professionals, as well as people in managerial and sales positions, found that by applying these food guidelines they were able to withstand the, rigors of a-day conferences and meetings — and continue to function in top form for hours on end, even as colleagues wilted. Travelers who followed these guidelines were able to reach their destinations fresher and more alert, ready to work or play immediately on arrival. And long-distance travelers reported feeling little or no jet lag!

Meet the Author

Dr. Judith Wurtman, an M.I.T. research scientist and author of the bestselling Carbohydrate Craver's Diet and Eating Your Way Through Life, has appeared on more than 200 radio and TV shows and is quoted regularly in The New York Times and other print media as an authority on nutritional subjects.

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