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Food and Mood: Coping with Loss

By Breea Johnson, MS RD LDN

Going through a loss can have a huge impact on our nutrition. We know that the mind and body are intertwined, with an even closer connection between the brain and the gut (otherwise known as the digestive system). Do you ever notice when you are nervous you feel it in your stomach? Or when you drink alcohol you feel it in your brain? Dealing with a loss can affect appetite; foods you typically like may seem tasteless and just trying to eat three meals a day may seem challenging. But the connection between what we eat and how it makes us feel and think is also perpetually linked. The brain is the most complex organ, as everyone knows, and it requires proper nutrition to function well.  Beyond nutritious sources of protein, carbohydrates and fat, the brain needs the complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals to properly function and for brain cells to communicate effectively. Most vital are neurotransmitters (i.e. dopamine and serotonin) which are made of amino acids-found in protein foods (meat, fish, dairy, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains) which makes protein essential in improving mental performance. While the comfort foods may be calling your name – be sure to add some protein to keep you thinking clearly and feeling healthy.