Eat Your Way to Happiness

Eat Your Way to Happiness

by Elizabeth Somer

Paperback(Original)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373892075
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Edition description: Original
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Somer is a registered dietitian and the author of several books, including Eat Your Way to Happiness and Food & Mood. She is the editor of the Nutrition Alert newsletter, a contributing editor to Shape and a nutrition advisor for Prevention. She appears frequently on NBC's Today and other national television shows. Visit her at www.elizabethsomer.com.

Read an Excerpt

Blissfully thin. Take a moment to imagine what that would be like—to be joyously happy, fit, trim and sexy.

What would it feel like to wake up each morning after a deep and restful sleep, filled with energy, enthusiasm and anticipation of another wonderful day ahead of you? To have all the energy and mental sharpness to tackle any task that came your way, to thoroughly enjoy your job, family, friends and activities? To be filled to the brim every day with gratitude and hope, excitement and inner peace? To be calm, relaxed, at peace with yourself, your world, your future and your life?

What would it feel like to be lean, fit, confident and strong? To slip easily into a little black dress or the jeans you wore in high school? To have the energy and strength to bound up a flight of stairs, work in the yard all day with energy to spare, enjoy long hikes with the family or take up tennis? To feel comfortable in your own skin and to feel proud of yourself and desirable to others?

Accept that all of that is possible.

The Promise

No diet, book or teacher can guarantee bliss or a perfect figure for the rest of your life, just as no one can guarantee you will live disease-free until you die peacefully in your sleep at age 110. But I can promise that if you follow the secrets laid out in this book, you will stack the deck in favor of being blissfully fit. I also promise that if you follow my advice in the pages that follow you will feel the best you have felt in a long time, if ever, and will be thinner and fitter than you've ever been in your adult life.

How do I know that? I have been researching the link between diet and mood for decades. That research led me to write Food & Mood, which came out in its first edition in 1995. Since then, people have been sharing their stories with me of how that book changed their lives.

People have told me they followed my diet advice and found a new lease on life.

Young, old, kids, teenagers, men and women all got happier, leaner, smarter or less stressed. Their energy improved. Their memories returned. They slept better, reacted faster, handled stress better. Menopausal women told me their hot flashes disappeared, men told me they no longer fell asleep in the recliner every night. Many times their depression lifted, or they were able to discontinue, or at least reduce, their medications. Often PMS symptoms vanished, or they no longer battled the Winter Blues. They were enthusiastic about life and looked forward to the future. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me, "I never knew I could feel this good!"

Michelle, a producer for NBC's Today show, is a perfect example. When she was 12 years old, she was hit head-on by a car. "The car continued to drive with me on the windshield, and I eventually fell to the street and suffered a second blow to my head," she told me. She was left with a traumatic brain injury, as well as back and neck problems. As a result of the brain injury, she forgot how to read and do any type of math. "Even something as simple as subtracting the number 6 from 10 was difficult for me in those early years. I suffered extreme anxiety and fell into a depression as well."

Slowly Michelle regained her life, her mind and her mood:

"Good nutrition and health played a huge role in my recovery. It was Elizabeth's advice about how to eat to improve my mood that helped me understand the power of foods and the effects of my eating habits on my brain and body. I gave up sugar and refined carbs and added in all the good stuff, especially depression-fighting foods she recommended, like salmon and berries. I made a full recovery and have accomplished more than anyone ever thought I would. I graduated from college with honors, served as a White House intern and now work for NBC's #1 morning show. I can't tell you how important eating well was in my recovery. It gave me the energy, determination and health I needed to battle my injuries. Food & Mood was my bible. I'm so grateful that something inspired me to pull that book off my mom's bookshelf. I can't imagine where I'd be today without it."

You Are Exactly What You Eat

You've heard the old adage "You are what you eat." Most of us realize the truth of that statement when it comes to our physical health. We know if we drink soda instead of calcium-rich milk that somewhere down the road we are likely to end up with bone loss and osteoporosis. We know that a diet loaded with greasy fast foods will cause heart disease, at least someday. Maybe you supplement with a few extra antioxidants in hopes of slowing the aging process.

I am in full support of getting enough calcium for your bones, cutting back on the saturated fat to protect arteries and getting all the antioxidants you can to slow aging. However, it takes months, years, even decades for a bad diet to show up as a physical problem, while the link between your diet and your mood is much more immediate.

Literally, what you eat or don't eat for breakfast will affect how well you feel, how much energy you have and how clearly you think by midafternoon. What you have for lunch may well determine how sharp you are midafternoon or set the stage for whether you battle cravings at night for buttery popcorn or gallons of ice cream. It also might affect how well you sleep that night, which then affects how alert and energetic you are the next day.

Janet, an editor and actor in Southern California, says, "When I eat the right breakfast, keep my lunch and dinner light, balance protein with quality carbs and definitely cut way back on sweets, I have tons of energy, sleep better and think more clearly. Also, I noticed that when I overindulge in 'junk' eating, I become oversensitive and 'weepy,' which is definitely not me. What a wake-up call for how food can affect me emotionally!"

Of course, your food choices today affect your long-term mood and mind, too. What you eat and how you supplement today will have a huge impact on whether you are depressed, develop dementia or Alzheimer's, or lose your independence in later years. In fact, the better care you take of yourself today, the more likely you will live disease-free, sharp-as-a-tack and independent into your nineties or beyond. As one researcher put it, "the older you get, the healthier you've been."

It Just Makes Sense

Every atom, every molecule, every cell, tissue, organ and system in your body is made up of the ingredients in the foods you eat, the water you drink and the air you breathe. Cell membranes are made up of fats and proteins from foods like the salmon or nuts you had for lunch. The iron in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your brain and tissues comes from something as simple as the black beans in a burrito. The energy your brain uses to relay messages comes from the carbs in a bowl of cereal at breakfast, and the B vitamins that convert those carbs into cell energy came from the milk you poured over the cereal. So it just makes sense that you literally are exactly what you choose to eat.

There are 40+ nutrients and more than 12,000 phytonutrients in foods that your body and brain can't make by itself but require to function in tip-top shape. The amount and balance of those thousands of nutrients determines whether you are happy or sad, smart or forgetful, energetic or lethargic, healthy or diseased, living vibrantly or dragging through the day.

Every sprig of broccoli, every leaf of spinach, every bite of tuna or egg or potato is converted into the living organism your friends call you. Give your body the right mix of the right nutrients at the right time, and your body hums along like a well-oiled, highly tuned, perfectly timed machine. Feed it junk, and it's no surprise you feel horrible, gain weight and are likely to age before your time.

You Aren't the First Human to Need Vitamin C

You know deep down in your heart that eating junk is bad for you. Sure, it might feel good to curl up on the couch with a half-gallon of ice cream on a lonely Friday night. But too many of those temporary indulgences always backfires. Always. Eat crap and that's how you will feel: physically, emotionally and mentally…today, tomorrow and years down the road.

Just as junk brings you down, eating the right mood-boosting foods—the type of foods that the human body evolved to need and thrive on—and including those foods in the right amounts at the right times can be one of life's most permanent uplifting experiences. Food really can be the way to a na tura l high! When you set aside the immediate gratification of eating a gooey, sticky, greasy, sweet glob of junk, and instead feed your body the foods on which it thrives—foods known to improve mood and slim waistlines—you will be amazed how good you feel, how much energy you have, how smart you are, how the pounds just melt away and how the mood pendulum swings from guilt and depression to pride and joy. I know because I've researched this topic for almost 20 years and have seen the results firsthand over and over and over again.

Just Take a Pill?

Oh sure, you can take medications to treat depression, anxiety and other emotional problems. In fact, medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (i.e., Prozac) are the number one treatment option for depression. I'm not against that solution when all else fails. The problem is most mood-altering medications come with a slew of side effects. Many antidepressants, for example, cause weight gain, make you drowsy and lethargic, ruin your sex drive, slow metabolism or mess with your blood sugar.

I can understand why people would be willing to make the trade and put up with those side effects just to feel good again. However, medication is not always the holy grail for depression.

You should always seek medical help if the blues last more than a month or are accompanied by other symptoms. In all cases, however, even if you choose to begin with medication or therapy, diet always will help. A change in what and how you eat has benefits that are more immediate than those often experienced with drugs, with improvements sometimes noted within as little as one to three weeks. What you eat can be the ultimate na tura l high , since it comes with no side effects except a lowered risk for all diseases and an increased chance of living longer, smarter, healthier and leaner. In many cases, a change in diet is all you need to feel better and drop pounds.

Following the guidelines in this book will help speed your return to happiness with or without medication. The guidelines are the natural-high solution to lifelong joy and a fit figure. The more closely you follow the secrets and advice in this book, the faster and more dramatic will be your results. But any change, even small ones, will help turn the emotional tide.

The Latest and the Best

We've come a long way in the past decade or two when it comes to understanding how food affects mood, mind and energy. This book is a culmination of extensive research and experience, coupled with some amazing breakthroughs and new foods that speed the process of feeling your best by eating right. The following pages are filled with people's stories of how making a few changes in what and when they ate turned out to be the ticket to joy and a sleeker figure.

In the next few chapters, you'll learn the top 10 diet secrets to happiness, distilled from decades of research and personal experience. You'll learn simple ways to tweak your diet that will have profound effects on how good you feel, how consistent your mood is, how sharp your mind is, and how energetic you can be, while you lose weight and regain your health.

Reading Group Guide

Elizabeth Somer's, author of EAT YOUR WAY TO HAPPINESS, offers tips and tricks to survive the upcoming holidays without the need for that typical New Year's resolution . . . .

Whether it's Christmas or Hanukkah, it's the tradition and ritual, the time spent with loved ones, the feelings of connectedness, the memories, the giving, the celebration of the human spirit that makes this time of year so magical. Where we sometimes go wrong is mistaking food for the main event, rather than a means to an end. Mindlessly inhaling a third helping of stuffing won't satisfy your soul and build memories like holding grandpa's hand during the Super Bowl or the belly laughs with your sister in the kitchen.

1) The key is to preserve the tradition and avoid the binge. This is the season to splurge - not on endless trays of fudge and cookies, but rather on the real meaning of the holidays - enjoying the company of others. That means putting food in its place. At parties, make food secondary to visiting with new and old friends; circle the room, not the buffet table. Nurture the spirit of giving by planning parties, gifts, and time around loved ones, not around eating. Instead of a sit-down gorge session, appetizer trays the size of the White House Christmas tree, or batches of cookies to feed an army, invite family and friends over at a non-eating time such as mid-afternoon or late evening. Serve a beverage and a few low-calorie snacks to compliment:

It's a myth that food has to be dripping in fat to taste good. You can cut fat and never even miss it. Better yet, it doesn't take any more time to prepare low-fat foods. For example, most people know to remove the skinfrom chicken before cooking, use broth and wine for sauteing instead of oil or broth instead of butter in your stuffing, and to use cornstarch and broth instead of butter and flour for a roux when making creamed sauces. We also know we can cut fat by adding more vegetables and salads to the center stage. But you might not know that you can:

2) Use potatoes instead of cream to make a rich and creamy soup or

3) Use fruit puree. Use baby prunes or apple butter in place of all or part of the fat in baked goods, such as breads and muffins.

4) Take advantage of the fat-free products on the market: Fat-free half & half, cream cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, evaporated milk. Hint: Just because you cut the fat and calories, don't sabotage yourself by eating twice as much! You still need to watch portions.

5) Flavor, Not Salt: There is more to flavor than just a heavy-hand on the salt shaker. The first thing to do is season with other ingredients and you won't even miss the salt, such as roasted red peppers, cilantro, fresh ginger, salsa, and more. For example, season mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and horseradish and you won't even miss the salt.

6) Decide to attend only the most valuable parties; you don't have to say "yes" to every invitation. Once you're in the door, sample foods that are special or unique to the holidays and bypass the everyday goodies. You can eat a handful of nuts or a chocolate chip cookie anytime, but a thin slice of pumpkin pie or a special appetizer only comes around once a year.

7) It's the first bite that counts; after the fifth Christmas cookie or the fourth gulp of egg nog, they all taste the same. So, take a sample, don't pig out, and savor the flavor and the company.

8) If you find yourself overeating at a party, try to disengage and get away from the food. Taking a tour of the house, admiring the decorations, or stepping outside may be all you need to break the overeating cycle.

9) Before a social event, rehearse how you will handle offers for food you don't want. You can just say 'no' or ask for a doggie bag. In the latter case, you can recycle the food for a gift basket or can take it to tomorrow's office party.

10) Have a plan. Before leaving for a party, decide ahead of time exactly what you will and won't do, then stick with it. For example, faced with the prospect of a cocktail party, plan to taste 5 interesting hors d'oeuvres while munching mostly on the raw vegetables and fresh fruit.

11) Plan ahead to side step stumbling blocks, i.e., stand somewhere other than by the buffet table, visit with people who are not eating, and cover your plate with your napkin to signal you're done.

12) Listen to your body and eat when you're hungry, not because the food is there or other people are eating. Eat slowly and stop when you are comfortably full.

13) You definitely need a plan regarding alcohol. Alcohol disinhibits a person so that once you start drinking you are likely to eat more. Even one light beer or one wine spritzer can topple your willpower.

14) Keep your eating schedule on track. Many people skip meals in an effort to save calories this time of year. This plan backfires and inevitably increases cravings and lowers resistance later in the day, which can lead to overeating at holiday festivities. Instead, keep yourself on schedule by stocking the kitchen with low-fat munchables and eating a nutritious light breakfast and lunch the day of a social event.

15) Take your time at the buffet table to check out the offerings. Then fill the plate with fresh vegetables, melon slices or other fresh fruit, salads with low-fat dressing, and lean slices of meat. That way you can have small samplings of the higher-fat festive foods, but won't be tempted to overdo it.

OR, HOW ABOUT THESE?

1) Be choosey. Decide ahead of time to attend only the parties and eat only those foods that are most important to the tradition of the holidays.
2) Don't skip meals. Skip breakfast to bank the calories will to lead to overeating at the party. So front load your calories, by eating a light and healthful breakfast and lunch.
3) Sample, don't gorge. The enjoyment of tasting new foods comes in the first few bites. Savor the flavor of one appetizer, but don't eat the whole bowl.
4) Be polite, not nice. Rehearse ahead of time how you will gracefully say "no" to food offers, coaxings, and coercions.
5) Have a specific plan. Decide ahead of time exactly what and how much you will eat and drink. Then stick with your plan.
6) Just say "no" to alcohol. Even one beer or wine spritzer can breakdown your defenses and lead to overeating. Avoid alcohol altogether, dilute your drinks, or alternate one alcoholic beverage with two non-alcoholic beverages.
7) Loosen up. Give yourself permission to attend a party, even if you don't eat or drink.
8) Never arrive hungry. You are less likely to overeat and more likely to feel relaxed and ready to enjoy the festivities if you have a healthful snack or mini-meal before a party.
9) Think veggies. Fill your plate with vegetables, fruit, low-fat crackers and cheese, and an extra-lean slice of meat from the buffet table and enjoy the company guilt-free.

Elizabeth Somer, M.A., is a registered dietitian and author of several books, including EAT YOUR WAY TO HAPPINESS. She is a contributing editor to Shape magazine and editor in chief of Nutrition Alert, a newsletter that summarizes the current research from more than 6,000 journals. She appears frequently on NBC's TODAY Show and other national television shows.

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Eat Your Way to Happiness 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
LHedgpeth More than 1 year ago
I have generally had a love/hate relationship with self-help or improvement books. Some of them are tedious, some are preachy, some are downright boring and others reek with the obvious intent to make a buck (and make that buck alone). I was pleasantly surprised with Eat Your Way to Happiness. I found the writing fresh and easy to take in, without an ounce of preachiness or self-righteousness. The book is broken into easy to follow and read chapters, complete with accounts of "real people" that Ms. Somer has counseled and advised. The main proponent to Eat Your Way to Happiness is the old adage "Your are what you eat". Ms. Somer takes this saying and runs with it - - encouraging readers to cut processed foods, fast foods, foods heavy in sodium and soft drinks out of our diets, replacing them with natural, whole foods, the right kind of carbs and fats, and a better combination of foods that will keep you energized and work with your brain chemistry to keep you calmer and happier (and therefore more likely to stick with the diet). And yes, chocolate and wine can be good for you! Eat Your Way to Happiness not only mentions several different types of diets, such as Mediterranean and Vegetarian, but also includes suggested menus, recipes and a shopping list. It also encourages the reader to combine better eating with exercise, shaking off the notion that any diet alone will successfully instigate weight loss. I enjoyed and appreciated this book so much that I began following some of its tenants (not all of them . . .yet). I have noticed a difference in my general demeanor - - less tired, more energy and less stressed - - which is perhaps the best recommendation a self-help book can get. To anyone who is interested in changing their diet in order to lose weight, or simply to improve the way they feel, and especially for those who dislike any type of dieting, Eat Your Way to Happiness is an excellent choice and I would highly recommend it.
LoriHedgpeth on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I have generally had a love/hate relationship with self-help or improvement books. Some of them are tedious, some are preachy, some are downright boring and others reek with the obvious intent to make a buck (and make that buck alone). I was pleasantly surprised with Eat Your Way to Happiness. I found the writing fresh and easy to take in, without an ounce of preachiness or self-righteousness. The book is broken into easy to follow and read chapters, complete with accounts of "real people" that Ms. Somer has counseled and advised. The main proponent to Eat Your Way to Happiness is the old adage "Your are what you eat". Ms. Somer takes this saying and runs with it - - encouraging readers to cut processed foods, fast foods, foods heavy in sodium and soft drinks out of our diets, replacing them with natural, whole foods, the right kind of carbs and fats, and a better combination of foods that will keep you energized and work with your brain chemistry to keep you calmer and happier (and therefore more likely to stick with the diet). And yes, chocolate and wine can be good for you! Eat Your Way to Happiness not only mentions several different types of diets, such as Mediterranean and Vegetarian, but also includes suggested menus, recipes and a shopping list. It also encourages the reader to combine better eating with exercise, shaking off the notion that any diet alone will successfully instigate weight loss. I enjoyed and appreciated this book so much that I began following some of its tenants (not all of them . . .yet). I have noticed a difference in my general demeanor - - less tired, more energy and less stressed - - which is perhaps the best recommendation a self-help book can get. To anyone who is interested in changing their diet in order to lose weight, or simply to improve the way they feel, and especially for those who dislike any type of dieting, Eat Your Way to Happiness is an excellent choice and I would highly recommend it.
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