The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body, by Tyler Graham & Drew Ramsey, MD

By: Oanhie “Shinsen” Pham, Editor-in-chief

If getting on a healthy diet or losing weight is part of your new year’s resolutions, check out “The Happiness Diet,” written by Tyler Graham and Drew Ramsey. Graham and Ramsey’s discusses the history of the Modern American Diet, otherwise known as MAD, how “unhappy meals” end up in the food diet, happy fats and MAD fats, where to get the good stuff like fiber, calcium, omega-3s and vitamin A, the superfoods one should consume (referred in this book as those enriched in the “Essential Elements of Happiness”) and how to even save money on pasture-raised, grass-fed meats by buying directly from a farmer.

Glancing at the front cover, one might find the picture of the seemingly unhealthy cheeseburger amusing because of the title. However, the authors explained that it’s no ordinary burger one can find at a fast-food chain. It’s packed with cheese and meat from grass-fed cows, whole grains, organically grown vegetables and good nutrients such as omega-3s, folate, zinc and magnesium – ingredients that are important to one’s health.

What’s handy is that the book lists foods that are excellent for focus, energy, good mood and shows how they can be made great-tasting so even children might enjoy. For example: anchovies, a focus food, can be a part of one’s diet in an easy, delicious way by turning them into a savory dressing for crisp raw vegetables such as green beans and lettuce, or roasted ones like potatoes and kale. The book doesn’t miss a beat by providing readers with a meal plan for two weeks, healthy recipes for such dressings and plenty of food recipes such as making perfectly scrambled eggs (which is considered brain food and good at any mealtime) and citrus spinach salad. The one thing missing is food photos to convince me to try some of the recipes involving ingredients I’m not particularly thrilled about (anchovies, anyone?).

According to “The Happiness Diet,” in the summer of 2010, 28 million boxes of Kellogg’s cereal were recalled due to a foul smell and tainted taste caused by a compound in the box lining. That reason and 99 more why one should avoid processed foods are sprinkled throughout the book. However, the authors understand the convenience of processed foods but want consumers to carefully look over the ingredients first (the book has a section devoted to terms to be wary of!).

In addition, the book provides 100 reasons why one should avoid supplements, too. Supplements promising energy, focus, better moods, and younger skin may seem appealing. However, the book states that vitamins found in supplements aren’t the same as the ones found in actual food. Even if that isn’t at all surprising to some people, some of the facts are quite interesting. For example, Walmart and Costco sold L’il Critters Gummi Vites, a supplement for children, but it contained 2.5 micrograms of lead per serving. Here’s another one: the book states that your kidneys quickly filter out most vitamins and supplements, and the dark yellow urine after having a multivitamin comes from B2, which is also a food coloring. The facts provided make me think twice about the supplements I consume to try to stay healthy.

I recommend reading the “The Happiness Diet” as it carries fun, interesting facts about supplements, processed foods and even has a bunch of useful, brain-healthy recipes. I’m always looking for simple, healthy recipes to try because I would rather eat homemade dishes than buy them boxed or at restaurants. The authors even said that it’s not possible to not lose weight from following the Happiness Diet. So grab a copy and try out some of the recipes.

Photo credit: http://www.barnesandnoble.com