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Women's Health

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Happy Meals

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Aviva Patz
Redbook Magazine Logo

Turns out food fuels more than your body -- it feeds your mood too. But before you reach for the Ben & Jerry's, read on to see what you should eat (and avoid) to fight stress, fatigue, the blues, and more. Do you head to the kitchen when you're tired...or stressed...or sad...or just plain bored? (We know we do.) You may think that's a bad habit, but it turns out that it's a smart plan -- if you pick the right foods. "What you eat can affect your mood and how well your brain works," says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology research scientist and coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet. And as long as you're not bingeing or mindlessly munching to soothe yourself, feeding your mood can be healthy and effective. So unless you've been consistently depressed or lethargic (in which case you should see your doctor), go ahead and use food as your pill of choice: It can help make up for nutritional deficiencies that are draining your energy and brain power, and contribute to stabilizing yo-yoing blood sugar to prevent fatigue. It can help lower blood pressure to keep you calm, or jump-start your system when your batteries are low. Finally, what you eat can raise or lower levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters to help you function at your emotional and physical best. Here, your guide to creating your own personal feel-good menu.

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