Are you hungry for happiness? I was.

There’s so many things they never taught me when they sold me that South Beach book or got me set up with those slim fast shakes. How much our mood is impacted by our nutrient intake, for example.

I’ve seen it too many times- people who see nutrition as a numbers game. Calories in, calories out, forgetting that our body is a working organism and that food impacts a lot more than the number on the scale. 

Here are just 4 of the many reasons why you’re chronic diet history could be impacting your mental health.

Let’s start with a basic biology lesson. Neurotransmitters are tiny chemicals that live in our brain and deliver information from one cell to the next. Serotonin, one of the most well known (like the Justin Timberlake of the neurotransmitter boy band) is responsible for our mood, appetite and sleep.

But what I never learned in a psych class is that the production of neurotransmitters are based upon intake of amino acids (hello protein). So if you’re continually nutrient depleted, your body won’t have the building blocks it needs to create serotonin (which helps keep you happy!)

Most of my clients who chronically diet feel the need to abstain from certain foods all together so they can be successful. But the reality is, continually restricting your food can lead to more cravings and increased likelihood of overeating. Often times the real root of cravings isn’t really anything physiological- it’s mindset related due to feeling deprived and finally giving yourself “permission” to eat again. 

Our biofeedback, or the physiological response of our body, is often negatively impacted by ongoing dieting. This means worsened energy, mental clarity, libido, sleep and mood. 

And lastly, the longer we diet, the more likely we are to create food rules. To feel guilt and shame when we aren’t perfect. To believe we can’t be trusted with food, when in reality, our expectations were unrealistic in the first place.

While dieting has a time and place in a periodized nutritional protocol, we aren’t meant to diet for extended periods of time. If you find you are struggling with mood, it may be time to examine your caloric intake and see if you’re hungry for happiness