Why Brain Health Matters

Do you make impulsive decisions throughout the day? Does the smell of fresh pizza or chocolate cake lure you in? Does the idea of an ice cream cone or frozen yogurt entice you? Do you find that you are easily distracted or have trouble staying focused at work? Perhaps, you have trouble completing a paper without checking Facebook 10 times?
The Amen Clinics has identified that many people struggle with overeating. In fact, our research shows that there are 5 types of overeaters. Today we will focus on the impulsive overeater. If you can identify yourself as being very impulsive when making decisions, especially decisions involving food you will want to continue to read this article.
Some of the common symptoms of impulsive overeaters are: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Easily distracted, poor judgment, difficulty with impulse control and poor time management. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you’re not alone and we have many helpful suggestions to teach you how to regain control of food, while improving your life.
Why Nutrition Matters
You may know what foods are healthy in general, but knowing what foods will help your specific brain type is essential. It is important that your brain work the best it can for you to accomplish your personal and professional goals. Here you will learn which foods will increase your ability to have better time management, concentration and follow through, throughout the day.
The impulsive brain type is helped by boosting dopamine levels in the brain to strengthen low activity in the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with increasing brain focus. Therefore to help increase your ability to focus and have good time management, eating foods that boost dopamine is the key ingredient in your recipe, as well as eliminating foods that deplete dopamine. Eating foods high in protein, which triggers dopamine to be released, helps increase attention and motivation. Some examples of high protein foods include: beef, poultry, lamb, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts and pea protein powder. It is advised to have protein at each meal to help maintain you dopamine. Aim for a serving size of approximately 2-5 oz., 3 times per day depending on your body frame size.
Here’s the formula I use when calculating body weight
The protein equation is 0.8 g/kg of body weight. Or 1g/kg of body weight for an active athlete. To get your weight in kg divide your weight in lbs. by 2.2.
If you struggle with disorganization, impulsivity and distractibility it is important to plan your healthy meals in advance and to keep your fridge stocked with healthy foods. My number one suggestion I share with my patients is to get rid of the unhealthy foods, this way, if you get distracted by food or are hungry, you are prepared and will not be tempted by a poor choice. Having healthy foods prepared in advance will keep you focused, increase your ability to have good judgments and better decision making skills. Not only can boosting protein be very beneficial, but by making your meal balanced by incorporating high-quality protein, vegetables and a healthy fats, you are all increasing your overall health by eating needed antioxidants and lowering your risk for a number of debilitating diseases.
This combination can be essential to control your impulses.
Here are two sample days of meal plans to help balance your impulsive brain. Plan ahead to have 3 meals a day with 2 snacks.
Sample Meal Plan
Breakfast: Smoothie: Pea Protein Powder, Coconut Butter, Berries, Coconut Milk, Flaxseed, super greens
Snack: Almond Butter on an Apple
Lunch: Grilled Salmon over a large salad with sliced avocado, tons of veggies
Snack: Leftover Salad from Lunch
Dinner: Rotisserie Chicken baked with roasted green beans and slivered almonds and a side of grilled zucchini
Breakfast: Eggs Omelet with spinach, peppers, onions, kale, mushrooms, avocado
Snack: Blueberries with Almonds
Lunch: Grilled Chicken over Salad with hummus, sunflower seeds, tons of veggies.
Snack: Baby Carrots dipped in Guacamole
Dinner: Grilled Meat (Lamb Chops or Steak) with a Big Salad and a side of Steamed Broccoli and roasted Asparagus with Olive Oil
Healthy Tips
Here are some other healthy tips for bringing balance to your life when you have an impulsive brain type:

  1. Eat protein at each meal. Do not skip breakfast and start the day with a protein rich meal such as an omelet with avocado, spinach, peppers, and onions. Have breakfast within 1 hour of waking up to help prepare your day at work or school. Protein may help boost dopamine to increase motivation, saliency and drive. A serving of protein is the size of the palm of your hand (3-4 oz.). Protein-rich foods include: beef, poultry, lamb, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, pea protein powder.
  2. Work at a job or organization that is exciting or deeply meaningful
  3. Taking natural supplements such as L- tyrosine or SAMe
  4. Write down goals to help you stay focused and positive
  5. Focus on getting adequate amounts of sleep, between 7-9 hours each night
  6. Practice willpower. Giving in to obsessive behaviors solidifies them in the brain and establishes nerve tracks to make them more automatic. By fighting against them, you will have more control over your actions.
  7. Know which foods such as (sugar, gluten, dairy) will increase your chance of being impulsive. Having trouble focusing, leads to poor time management and loss productivity.