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It seems like every day we’re told what foods are good and bad for you, but it’s often difficult to translate all this information into a grocery store run and eating schedule. In the final installment of a series with BrainFitLife nutrition coach Zoe Davis, Dr. Daniel Amen and Zoe give prime examples of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, as well as how to make these healthy choices a habit.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast. I'm Doctor Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain, to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain specked imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information visit brainmdhealth.com. Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast. And stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation as well as any of our supplements at brainmdhealth.com.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. So let's get really practical. I am here with Coach Zoe Davis who has answered hundreds, maybe more, questions on Brain Fit Life. You've been doing that for a long time now, haven't you?
Zoe Davis: Yeah, it's been a couple of years now. Two and a half years.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah. We have about 14,000 people in our community and we want to create Brain Fit people. That's our goal. So what are our options for breakfast? Let's start with the morning. What are things that are nutrient dense that taste great?
Zoe Davis: So yeah, my favorite meal of the day. My favorite in the morning is eggs with lots of dark, leafy greens. So kale is my favorite. I know a lot of people wince at kale but I think when you make it right it's delicious. So using whatever vegetables you like but lightly cooking them and then adding them to your eggs. And you can do that in lots of different ways. I like asparagus and broccoli and onions and mushrooms. But always using a lot of fresh garlic and I usually use avocado oil if I'm going to put any oil in. That's my favorite breakfast.
And then you know, other options that people really enjoy are like a protein smoothie. Sometimes people aren't hungry in the morning and they feel like they're in a rush, they don't have time to cook eggs, even though they're super fast to cook. But smoothies are really a great option because you can put a lot of nutrient density in there. You can use a high quality plant protein powder, you can use almond milk or coconut milk as your liquid and then you an add all kinds of deliciousness. I mean we have great recipes for all sorts of delic-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sure. And then Tana's cookbooks, especially the Brain Warriors Way cookbook. There's so many shake recipes. And they taste awesome.
Zoe Davis: They're awesome, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And you can hide, for kids for example, you can hide the taste of kale or spinach.
Zoe Davis: And for kids you can put vitamins in there, you can put probiotics in there. You can totally muscle it up and have it be a really strong breakfast for kids.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or our new Bright Minds powder, which so many people don't want to take capsules. I don't want to take 10 capsules in the morning. You can take a scoop of the powder and put it in a shake and sort of hide the taste. Although it tastes reasonably okay. But that's often my go-to in the morning. And we make a super clean, super healthy protein powder, one vanilla, one chocolate. And we do it, it's a way to say, "Look, it can taste great and be good for you. You just have to be thoughtful."
Zoe Davis: Yeah. And for kids, that's a great after school small meal, too. Because kids are always starving after school. And they want something that tastes good but you don't want them to have any junk. That's a great way to have something really tasty, slightly sweet and really nutritious for them as well.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, it's funny, parents give kids Oreos and a Coke and then they expect them to concentrate. So they give them a sugar burst and what happens in your body is your pancreas then sees the sugar, produces insulin so you've got a sugar spike, "Oh I feel great." And then 30 minutes later it drops you and your brain is now mud. And it's like, "Come on, get your homework done, what's the matter with you? Don't you care? Why are you doing this to me?" Which is just nuts when it's the parents allowing it to happen to the child.
Zoe Davis: And just not being aware of it. Not putting those two things together. It seems like, when you start talking about it, it seems like common sense. I often have that conversation with people where it's like, "Oh yeah, that makes sense." I didn't realize that drinking coffee at 10:00 at night would make my sleep disturbed." We're just not putting it together if you don't have those conversations, you don't sometimes think about it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So drinks in the morning, that's interesting. And you've alluded to this a couple of times. Is what people do is what they're going to do. That the brain actually gets in a rut. And so what's the healthy thing I can get at Jack in the Box? Nothing. Except maybe iced tea probably works. But I used to get a chicken fajita pita because it was 350 calories, so it was calorie smart and healthier than most. But the more I would allow myself to do it, the more trouble I would have not doing it. So whatever you allow yourself to do, it builds tracks in the brain and so it makes it more likely to happen.
So you want to find things you love that love you back and do it over and over. Because I actually think it's okay to get into a routine. Most people are in a routine that's bad for them. And so I usually cook eggs for Tana and Chloe in the morning and I'll have a cup of blueberries, I often throw some spinach in there as well for get my green stuff. The more you can find a routine you love, that loves you back, then you become a Brain Warrior.
Zoe Davis: Absolutely. And you make that new routine really accessible and doable and realistic. So often people say, "I don't have time to cook in the morning. That's why I have to have whatever's at work or what I grab at the drive-through or whatever." But if you have, for instance, I always talk to people about having some vegetables prepped and at eye level in their refrigerator. So when you open the refrigerator, there they are in all their colorful glory. And they're ready to go. So there's no excuse not to just throw them in with whatever you're eating. It's a way to just make it that much easier.
So you're right, I mean the routine really helps. So when you go to the store, come home, prep some food so that there's no reason not to eat well. It's the excuse of I don't have time to or I'm rushing so I'm not gonna cut up any veggies. Well if they're right there, then it's easy to add them to whatever you're eating.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So what about ... So let me just, and I think I've said it on the podcast before, so this is how I tell Tana I love her every morning. I make her a pumpkin spice almond milk cappuccino. So half caf coffee with unsweetened almond milk with pumpkin spice, about a teaspoon of that, with a little bit of chocolate stevia, put it in a blender, froths like crazy. Top it with cinnamon that has a little bit of erythritol in it and it's just amazing. She used to make it for me every morning and then she went away on a trip and I'm like, "Well who's gonna make this?" And she's like, "You have an MD, I'm sure you can follow the directions."
Zoe Davis: You can figure it out, right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so she taught me how to make it and now she's so sneaky. Because now I make it every morning. But you know, it's like my way of saying I love you by something you love that loves you back.
Zoe Davis: Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And that's the goal. So what about snacks?
Zoe Davis: Great. So snacks, always easy to carry with you is what people want to know. So raw nuts and seeds I think are a great option. I will, again preparation. I'm always talking about preparation. I'll get a bunch of different kinds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, dump them all together, mix them up. Maybe put a little bit of dehydrated coconut unsweetened in there. And then when you've got it pre-portioned you can just take it with you for your day. Then you've got a couple servings of really healthy fat along with some protein between meals that can be really simple. And again, I love the berries. It sounds like you love blueberries as well. And I will do the same thing with berries because they have great benefit. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, I'll mix them up and then take those with me as well. So having a little bit of healthy fat and protein with a little bit of good carbohydrate in the fruit can be really simple.
Other options that are delicious are almond butter and celery, or almond butter and apple. Really easy if you've got it, again, already ready to go in the morning, that makes it so much easier to take. I'm a big fan of raw veggies so I will bring raw veggies as well with some hummus or salsa along with the nuts and that's actually a really good pair as well, really simple whole foods.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Guacamole, too.
Zoe Davis: Avocado, yum.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Avocados are just amazing.
Zoe Davis: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I guess I should disclose, my father is an avocado grower. So I have avocados all the time. It's his way of saying he loves me. Any time I go over there to work out, he sends me home with a bag of avocados. So I just love that. And they're so good for you. And we used to think not, but 60% of the solid weight of your brain is fat. If they call you a fat head, say thank you. It's just a critical part of what should be in our diet.
Zoe Davis: Absolutely. Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay. What about fruit? So we talked about berries and berries are good. I have every day one cup of frozen blueberries. And I like frozen blueberries better than non-frozen blueberries because it's sort of like candy. In fact, I actually say it's God's candy and a cup of frozen blueberries is 70 calories. So it's calorie smart, it's loaded with fiber and color. And so why is the color important? They're vital chemicals. They're basically plant medicines.
Zoe Davis: Right. Absolutely. And blueberries, specifically, they're just like a super food. If there is such a thing, that would definitely be one of them. And frozen, I don't know if you've heard this but the frozen actually are better digested because they break a little bit in the freezing process. Is that something you've heard?
Dr. Daniel Amen: I haven't.
Zoe Davis: Yeah. So I mean I don't usually eat them frozen but I think about that sometimes. But I like them fresh. but yeah, I think a couple servings, depending of course on what your goals are, but a couple servings a day of really low sugar fruits, especially the berries because you're eating the seeds as well in berries, that's great. I think we're used to these huge bananas or huge apples or huge oranges. We don't need that ...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or half of a watermelon.
Zoe Davis: Right. Exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which is really a high sugar fruit. Or pineapple. But there's a difference, we don't have time to talk about it today but glycemic index and glycemic low that we should talk about. But apples, oranges, pears, if you're gonna have a banana, have it greener than brown.
Zoe Davis: And pairing it with a protein is gonna help that blood sugar response, right? So you're talking about the glycemic low, pairing it with a protein will slow that down. So it's a good idea to always, that's why I like to always eat fruit with a protein or at least some nuts that's got some protein in it. Slow that down so that you're not getting that spike and that drop, right? That's what we're trying to avoid.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And then for dinner and lunch, I would just tell people, think of a plate. 70% should be plant based foods, 30% high quality protein and mix in of those numbers, a healthy fat. But what about dessert? Since we only have a few minutes left, lets talk about what everybody gets unhappy about. And so Brain MD actually makes two chocolate bars.
Zoe Davis: They're so good. They're so good.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Brain and Love, which melts and is amazing.
Zoe Davis: It's amazing. And you just need a little piece. It's like all you're needing, if you just want a little sweetness, have a little but really enjoy it. Savor it. You don't need the whole bar, you can just have a little piece.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And then Brain on Joy, which is our coconut chocolate bar, which we just love.
Zoe Davis: Delicious.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And it's symbolic of there is no suffering.
Zoe Davis: Absolutely.
Dr. Daniel Amen: In getting well. You just got to use your brain.
Zoe Davis: And you can use that, like you said, melted and then dip your little berries in it and you've got this luxurious dessert. But I know Tana and you have some great recipes in there for cookies that are made with almond meal. I've used those at holidays, people don't even notice the difference. It's not a loss by eating well. For sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Although the difference is if I had an Oreo, I would really want four or five of them.
Zoe Davis: Oh sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If I have one of Tana's cookies, I'm happy with one or two of them. The level of satisfaction goes way up. Well it's been such a joy to be with you. Thank you for your work with Amen Clinics and with Brain Fit Life and being a Brain Warrior with me. I'm just super grateful for you and I know our community is as well.
Zoe Davis: My pleasure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you want to interact more with Zoe, join Brain Fit Life. Zoe answers virtually all of the questions on our forum so any time you ask a question, usually you have an answer that day or the next day. And it's either coming from me are Zoe and most commonly lately it's been Zoe. So thank you so much, my friend.
Zoe Davis: Absolutely. Take good care, thank you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. Say hi to everybody in Walnut Creek for me.
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