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Get Happy!

Have you ever heard of a study indicating that we should eat more junk food? Me either. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to hear about the results of a March 2012 Public Health Nutrition (a Cambridge Journal) study. Researchers found that people who ate junk food were 51 percent more likely to show signs of depression. And the more junk food they ate, the more likely they were to be depressed. That seems to explain why emotional eating becomes such a vicious cycle for some people.

We learned from a January 2012 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study that when women experience work “burn out,” they are likely to engage in emotionally-charged and uncontrolled eating. If those women are eating junk food for comfort, they may just be making a bad situation worse.

Junk food might make you feel better for the moment, but it could be hurting you in the long run, causing you to be even more depressed and left seeking comfort from food yet again. This cycle doesn’t stop until you’re strong enough to put down the potato chips.

Fortunately, you can avoid the ill-effects of junk food and the cycle of emotional eating that may come as a result of your indulgence. Instead of draining your happiness with junk food, try adopting these mood-enhancing habits:

  • Eat more “good mood” foods – According to a 2007 Psychology Today article, foods rich in B vitamins may ward off depression and other mental problems. To get more “B” in your diet, eat more spinach, beans, fish and lean poultry.

  • Go out and play in the sunshine – A 2011 Mayo Clinic Proceedings study associates higher blood serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (vitamin D) with a reduced risk of depression. Since the body makes vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, you can increase your levels simply by spending more time outside on a clear day. If that’s not an option, you can also take vitamin D supplements.

  • Eat dark chocolate – This is a great substitute for junk food because it’s likely to satisfy your craving for something sweet and make you feel good at the same time. According to the book A Chocolate a Day by Dr. John Ashton, the phenylethylamine found in chocolate has a stimulating effect on the brain.

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