Exercise can increase serotonin production – which probably explains the term “Runner’s High.” And pasta, cookies, and other such ‘comfort” foods are the foods we tend to seek, because carbohydrate is the food that increases the production of serotonin in the brain.
So it seems, as a person trying to lose weight, that the best thing to do when stress strikes would be to take a long walk, or go for a run, or “Shred.” The idea of that does sound great to me, but the truth is, it’s somehow much harder to get your ass moving than to bury your face in a plate of white pasta or to eat an entire box of Mallomars.
Additionally, eventually both the runner’s high and the food induced good mood will disappear because both of those are temporary fixes. This explains why, ultimately, someone invented drugs that would do the job of getting that serotonin pushed out and making the levels stay steady enough to keep the mood elevated. As we all know, when we are not stressed and are feeling happy and have a sense of well-being, it is pretty easy to stay on track.
I learned all this 15 years ago when a much-loved family member was diagnosed with depression caused by a chemical imbalance. During the process we found out that the 40 pounds he had gained over the year before his diagnosis were because he had pretty much stopped eating anything other than carbohydrates – and lots of them. Since it was our family’s first experience with anything like this, I wanted to face it without fear and to simply understand.
The reason any of this even comes to mind is that I have found myself wanting to sleep a lot, and eat bowls of spaghetti. I’m serious - all I want to eat is carbs these days, which tells me my brain is looking for some relief. However, I know bowls of pasta and slices of Wonder bread are not the answer, so on the days when I’ve been able to get past the knot in my stomach to eat, I have been
Mr. Helen has been a very happy camper these days because he has always loved carbs in every form and I’ve been making them more than usual lately. Instead of having to get up and get himself a couple slices of bread to go with the meat and veggies I’ve made for dinner, the carbs have been right there on the table too.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against carbs at all, especially as a runner. But I know I don’t need to eat as many of them as I have been lately. I do prefer some sorts of carbs over others – i.e., pasta over potatoes – so my solution lately has been to switch to my less preferred carbs making it easier to control the portion.
As I made this dish on Monday, I thought that it would be a good recipe to share with you all, especially since the holidays are coming. The first time I ever made this was for a fancy Christmas Prime Rib dinner. It’s a nice easy recipe that will free up one of the burners on your stove. I hope you enjoy.
Crockpot Smashed Red Potatoes
3 lbs. small or baby red potatoes, cut into halves or quarters to make uniform size
4 gloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tsp. sea salt
½ cup water
2T olive oil
½ cup whipped cream cheese with chives
¼ cup milk
Put the potato pieces, garlic, salt, water and olive oil into your crockpot. Give it a stir. Put crockpot on low, cook for 4-6 hours or until potatoes are tender. Turn crockpot off. Using a potato masher, smash the potatoes until they are somewhat chunky with smooth spots. Mash in the cream cheese with chives then give it a stir until blended. Add the milk and stir, adding more if the consistency is too thick.
If you have a crockpot with a removable crock, you can actually get these done and they can rest while you finish dishing up your meal. These also reheat really well and if they seem too thick just add a little more milk when you reheat them.
Just FYI, if you’d like to read some lay person friendly info on food and mood: