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The Four Food Groups

Yesterday David cried for two hours because the state of Maine didn't say anything as he assembled his talking puzzle of the United States.

Yesterday David cried for two hours because the state of Maine didn't say anything as he assembled his talking puzzle of the United States.

"It's not working!" he screamed as he threw the first thirteen colonies across the room.

"What did he have to eat today?" asked Eric.

"Christmas cookies and a candy cane," I replied. "We're sticking to the four food groups [from the movie Elf]: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup."

Lucky for me, I get to see how my brain would behave if it were a five-year-old boy. David's extreme meltdowns signal to me that we both need to return to the land of green legumes and brown grains.

Because too much sugar can be toxic to our sensitive chemistries.

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went five days without working out, and four without consuming a fruit or vegetable. During the nine-hour drive home from Ohio, I could feel the neurotransmitters in my brain packing their bags for a vacation in Florida.

"Wait! Wait!" I pleaded. "Don't go!" As soon as we landed in Annapolis I went grocery shopping—walking the perimeter of the store, where the good foods (produce and meats) are found—and I strapped on my running shoes because I wanted to say hello to my endorphins and ask them how their Thanksgiving was. I vowed to my serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine that I'd do a better job at Christmas. I'd resist the candy canes, splurge on grapefruits, and exercise five times a week.

But Saint Nick came with his Yule logs and German butter cookies, and I couldn't deprive the kids of an afternoon of making gingerbread boys and Christmas-tree cookies—even if butter, sugar, and white flour were the three ingredients. The feel-good chemicals in my brain got fed up again, and we're currently in the midst of negotiation talks.

My diet has always been an important part of my recovery from depression. Two years ago I worked with a naturopath on compiling a list of vitamins and minerals that would contribute toward mental health, that knew how to convince my neurotransmitters to stay. On top of my mood stabilizer and antidepressants, I also take vitamin C, B-complex, vitamin E, a multi-vitamin, glucosamine-chondrotin, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, and a load of omega-3 supplements. It takes me the same amount of time to swallow all my morning pills as it takes Eric to fry our breakfast eggs and set the table. But it's certainly worth the time. Because some of us (like David and me) really are what we eat.


Originally pubished on “Beyond Blue” at Reprinted with permission of For more, visit


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