Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Good Mood Diet



As a rule, I avoid diets. Although I would love to lose an extra five pounds, I refuse to "diet" and always try to eat sensibly and get daily exercise even if it's just ten minutes on the elliptical trainer. I read The Good Mood Diet with great interest. Not only is this diet completely ideal- it allows carbs!- but it's a way of eating that you can maintain forever.

It's about changing the way you eat to have energy and feel happy rather than eating endless bowls of salad and feel hungry. I'll never forget the time I tried losing weight by making powdered diet shakes and ended up adding ice cream to the powder to make it taste better. Yeah, didn't work.

I got inspired by reading The Good Mood Diet and am going to keep it on my bookshelf so I can page through it when I feel like I'm headed down the wrong path (fries! burgers! skipping meals!). The book boasts you will feel better in a day, erase depression in one week and lose weight within one month! Sounds fabulous , doesn't it? I certainly feel completely better mentally and have more energy when I eat healthy foods. This is such a great book about how to make better choices about the foods you eat. Eat healthy, feel better and as a bonus, you will look better.

Author Susan Kleiner includes delicious easy to make recipes, shopping lists and menus (among other valuable information) that make this book a keeper.


You speak very highly of eating lots of fish. Is taking an Omega 3 supplement the same as consuming a piece of salmon daily? What if you don't like fish?

While the oils in fatty fish contain the important marine-based omega-3 fats, critical for brain health (and heart health), when you take a supplement that's all you get. When you eat fish, you get the wonderful proteins and other nutrients found in fish:

Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin A, vitamin D
Major mineral contribution: Iodine, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium

You don't have to eat fish daily, and you don't have to eat salmon. Numerous fish and shellfish are high in omega-3 fats: black cod, catfish, shrimp, crab, halibut, sardines. And all fish have some omega-3 fats. If you really can't eat fish, then the supplements are a very wise alternative.


I know some people who are allergic to Splenda as well as other sugar substitutes. What do you think about Stevia?

Stevia is a very sweet herbal sugar-alternative. I have based my recommendations on the following paragraph published in the Journal of the American Dietetic ASsociation Online:

Stevia (Steveoside), derived from a South American shrub, imparts a sweet taste but cannot be marketed or sold as a sweetener in the United States. The FDA has not received sufficient scientific evidence to assure that this substance can be safely used as a food additive. JECFA evaluated steveoside in 1998 no ADI was set because insufficient data and specifications were available. Stevia can be sold as a “dietary supplement” and may be available in packets that resemble tabletop sweeteners. Consumers should be informed that Stevia is not approved as a nonnutritive sweetener.

So, while it sounds great, there is actually little safety data on Stevia. Because I am giving broad based public health advice, I do not recommend the use of Stevia in any appreciable amounts.


What are your favorite "feel good" foods? And what foods do you eat for an instant burst of energy?

I am a major fan of dairy. I love milk, yogurt, kefir. I love to make milk-based smoothies with extra whey protein added, along with great fruits like berries, peaches, bananas, mango. Each adds to the other to boost energy and mood.

I love the hot cocoa at night. I also love nuts and nut butters. Apples with peanut butter are a great energizer for mind and body. I love cereal. I love corn on the cob and BBQ chicken and a great big salad.


It's so hard to eat out and maintain a healthy diet. Just look at the majority of restaurants and what they offer. Can you make good choices without feeling like you are missing out? A dry chicken sandwich on plain bun with a wilted iceburg lettuce leaf is not enticing.

Yuck, that sounds terrible. I'd rather eat at home. And I have to admit that I usually do. I have high expectations for my food, but that can take high dollars that I'm not usually willing to fork over. I'd rather buy really high quality food at the market, like great vegetables and fruits, a wonderful piece of fish, a fabulous crusty bread and an awesome olive oil to dip in, and eat at home. It doesn't take much preparation. And it tastes fresh and delicious, and is less expensive than a restaurant.

When I do eat out, I usually save up for a great sushi dinner. That's my favorite, and it's time consuming to make at home.

But we do have two kids, and so eating out happens occasionally. Our favorite family choices still seem to tend toward Asian style, where the food is made fast and fresh. We love Vietnamese, especially pho. Thai comes in second and Chinese is actually pretty close, too.

When we're looking for fast and practical, Subway is a great choice. Pizza is always fun, and we're pretty selective when we order. Always vegetarian, thin crust if possible, and just regular cheese; never double. We load up on salad there, too.

We also can do Mexican-style, on occasion. Again, vegetarian, unless they have fish/shrimp, and we try to find a fresh-style place that's heavy on the vegetables and lighter on the rice. We have a great place in Seattle that we love called World Wrapps.

I can easily pass up dessert but put a plate of French fries in front of me and I cannot resist. What do you indulge in?

I love great bread. We have incredible bakeries here in Seattle, and I do indulge. But I don't eat bread alone. I eat it with a sandwich, or I dip in great olive oil, or I spread a little peanut butter and apple butter on top. A great rye bread is great dipped in plain, Greek-style yogurt, believe it or not.

So even when I'm indulging I'm putting my food to work for me. By always combining with protein and/or healthy fats, I'm feeding my muscles and my brain, and really enjoying it at the same time.

What would you say to someone who is on the Atkins diet? That diet scares me- it doesn't seem healthy at all but it's a very popular way for people lose weight.

The good thing about low carb diets is that few people actually stick to them for much more than a few weeks. They get bored, grouchy, crabby, miss other foods, crave variety, feel lousy, and finally go off the plan. Weight loss is a great motivator to go on a diet, but it's not enough of a motivator to keep you on a diet that makes you feel lousy. That's what's so great about The Good Mood Diet. The whole premise is about feeling good, but the cutting edge science of sports nutrition, helping you lose fat, is built in. So you feel great, you stick to the plan, and if you need to lose weight, you will.


What are your favorite exercises? How do you get into the mood to exercise when you rather sit on the couch and watch the E! channel? (or show of your choice)

You know, what drives me is what makes me feel good. I know that exercise makes me feel good, so that's why I go. But I also have another motivator. I frequently do group exercise (take an exercise class). The social part of it is very important. WE all support each other, and we kind of hold each other accountable for showing up. We laugh, sweat, and feel great. The class that I probably like the most really kicks butt, it's a high intensity interval training class. We have great music that really pumps me up. I really like to weight train much more than I like to do cardio exercise, but since the cardio is my mental challenge I feel great when I'm done.

When I exercise I need to maximize my time. I don't want to dilly dally. I want to work really hard, feel like I'm moving forward by getting stronger, gaining endurance, and having fun. I sweat like crazy, and the reward is a smoothie and that great shower at the end.

I also do a lot of activitiies that I don't necessarily think of my "exercise routine". I love to ski, cycle, hike, dance.

Here's a common scenerio: Someone tries to lose weight only to get frustrated and binge on the food they are trying to stay away from-- only to repeat the process. How will we ever put an end to that cycle?

I talk about that alot in The Good Mood Diet. This is a typical scenario. So after someone binges, they beat themselves up, tell themselves that now that can't eat anything, and then try very hard to follow through with that for hours. But they can't. They will get hungry no matter what they ate or binged on. So the strategy is to just accept that you binged, and then think about what you still need to eat. You may still need to eat your planned dinner, and the hot cocoa at bedtime. Then you'll feel much better because you've fed yourself feel great foods. Otherwise, at some point during the evening you would have broken down and eaten more instant gratification foods that continue a downhill feel bad slide.

When you eat what you need to eat, you wake up in the morning feeling great and back on the plan. You have your breakfast and off you go. You've broken the cycle. If you continue to beat yourself up and focus on depriving yourself, you will continue to crave the feel bad foods, and be stuck in that cycle. So I encourage people to let go of the past and live in the present and the future. Think about what you NEED to eat, and feed your brain.

I haven't seen the movie Super Size Me, but I read about the guy who ate at McDonalds every day and ended up feeling horrible, being sick and of course gaining weight. If you could put healthier items on the menus at fast food restaurants, what would you add?

You see, the problem with McDonald's and other chains isn't adding healthier choices, it's getting rid of the really lousy ones. As long as those are there, the healthy choices are just marketing ploys. Customers come in for the huge fries, burgers and big sodas. Not the healthy choices.

Would you appear on Oprah in a bikini like Kirstie Alley? I'll tell you right now- no, I would not. Ever. Okay for a million dollars I might.

No, because The Good Mood Diet is not about me. It's about creating a lifelong plan that helps people feel better. I am a scientific expert, not a celebrity.

Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD, FACN, CNS, FISSN

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Angie said...
I will be getting this book, and thank you so much for bringing it to our attention. I have been looking for a way to FEEL good, and have energy, and have never learned how to eat that way. I hate the DIET word too, this caught my attention because of the "feeling" good aspect. @ 7:54 PM  
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