These Simple Food Rules To Dramatically Boost Focus & Productivity

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

One of the quickest and most effective ways to improve your quality of life is healthier eating. But what exactly does “healthier eating” consist of? In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen dig into material from the new book Feel Better Fast and Make It Last to give you a list of simple food rules which, if followed, will transform your life and leave you feeling great.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. 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 Warrior's Way Podcast it brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using Brain SPECT Imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by brainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information visit
Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Thanks for being with us. We're talking about nutrition, food, and supplements. But I want to read another review for the podcast. Just found your Podcast and learning from all the information you share. Love Tana's passion such is when she was talking about people smoking weed. And thank you-
Tana Amen: You totally threw me under the bus though.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... for what you say to your daughter, "Life is not fair and this is what we do to be healthy." Enjoy how calm Dr. Amen is. Can you get into more parenting tips too. Looking forward to more great shows.
Tana Amen: Who is that?
Dr. Daniel Amen: It is from Game and Fun Penguin.
Tana Amen: Ah, okay.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Love that.
Tana Amen: Well, thank you for that. Because he throws me under the bus now and then. I need the support.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We actually have parenting shows.
Tana Amen: You just totally ignore that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: With Love and Logic with Jim and Charles Fay.
Tana Amen: And we should probably get into some teenage stuff because we've got a lot of teenage stuff going on around us right now.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We do. But today we're going to talk about food. And get your mind right.
Tana Amen: We're going to just say this. We'll get to that because we have a lot happening around us at the moment, not ours but stuff. And we'll talk about how we would handle it, and how we are handling it, and teaching our daughter how to handle things with her friends and ... so we will get to that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And then Feel Better Fast and Make it Last. There's a whole section on relationships and how to improve them and the two things you do with Chloe that you've done for a long time is you're really good at active listening. So you give her lots of time. Time and you don't talk at her, you listen. And the reason she talks to you is you listen. And that's so important.
Tana Amen: In her words, Mom gets it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, strategy number one, in Feel Better Fast in nutrition is you got to give yourself an attitude makeover. Your attitude or mindset may be the single most important factor in feeling better fast. So many people ... so you heard us talk about the elimination diet, last time. Which is basically eliminate things that could potentially hurt you and eat things that serve your health. And there are thousands of those things. But too often, and this came up last time, is when people go, "Oh, I can't have this, I can't have that." They really start to feel deprived and their four year old kicks in and has a temper tantrum and they give in to the four year old basically creating their own behavior disorder.
Tana Amen: So I want to ... this is actually so appropriate for how we're opening this up. So, I had lunch recently with ... it's actually the mother of one of my daughter's friends. She called me and she said, of all things, "I would really like some parenting advice." Because she has a teenager who's not quite as easy as my teenager and she want's some parenting advice. She's much, a much younger mother then I am. So, I said, "Sure, I'd love to have lunch with you."
And we were ordering lunch and I was ordering a green drink and a salad and whatever and so we went to a place that serves some pretty healthy stuff and she said, "Okay, what is that, that you ordered? I'm going to have what she had." The drink. The first thing she said to me, and this is a woman who's very educated, she's very strong, and she's very psychologically savvy, is the word I liked to use. She reads a lot. She's very spiritual. She's really, really a special kind of woman. And she's from China. And she said, "You eat so healthy." And she's like, "Does that actually make a difference?" And I said, "Well, In what way? It makes a difference in so many ways. In what way are you talking about?"
Dr. Daniel Amen: Emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Tana Amen: Right.
And she said, "Well, spiritually. Why does that make it ... spiritualty speaking does that make a difference?" I said, "Of course it does. It makes a difference in your energy. So if you're talking about prayer or meditation or how you feel about the world around you. Or how you feel about God, or mediation, or prayer and how you see things. It's going to make a difference. And it makes a difference in my energy and how I want to spend time with my daughter or my family or not." And she's like, "Oh, my gosh but I don't want to eat that way." I'm like, "Okay. You don't have to want to. I'm just telling you that it makes a difference."
Dr. Daniel Amen: And if you pre-order the book right now and go to they can download your brand new cookbook, The 10-Day Brain Boost, and what I have learned is there is no suffering-
Tana Amen: And that's the thing I said-
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... in getting well and God gave you a big brain for a reason.
Tana Amen: Well, and the thing that I said to her, I said, "What do you want more?" It's really about what you want more.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And I love the food I eat. But think about the advertising slogans.
Tana Amen: Oh, it's terrible.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Think about how they have brainwashed you to love bad food. So, I'm loving it from McDonald's. Finger licking good. Have it your way. Open happiness from Coca-Cola. You deserve a break today. They're great, Frosted Flakes. And when you read the ingredients these are not things that serve your health, that give you energy, they give you a memory that give you good behavior.
These are things that actually steal from your health. So it's like what do you want? Of course, I want to give into all the impulses I have, but they could hurt you. And an adult mindset or actually Chloe has it at 15, she had it at 12, is does this help me or does it hurt me. And so you have to get your mind right. And both of us, as I alluded to, have been in bad relationships in the past and I'm not doing it anymore and I'm damn sure not doing it with food, right? So I only want to love food that loves me back. The reason our relationship works is because we're in a relationship we love-
Tana Amen: We love each other back.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... that loves each other back.
Tana Amen: It has to be mutual.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right? That it's mutual.
Tana Amen: It's mutual respect.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And you have written about this before, that neuroscientists have actually planned how to hijack-
Tana Amen: There's an entire science and there's a trade magazine talking about the science behind this and how they hijack your brain.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The science behind ... by hijacking your taste buds.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So things like the vanishing caloric density or meltyness. Sensory specific satiety. Scientists are going after your taste buds. The perfect crunchiness, texture, aroma.
Tana Amen: They're going after every part. They're going after your taste buds. They're going after your visual. They do things to visually stimulate you. Auditory ... they go after every single thing. It's crazy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. And we tell ourselves so many lies. Like everything in moderation, which is your excuse to eat bad. Relax, we're all dying, why don't you have a little fun along the way. I'm just not encouraging it, right? I know I'm going to die.
Tana Amen: For me it's not about that. I've been sick. It's not about necessarily the number of years I have on the planet, it's about how I live while I am here during those years. It's the quality.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. You know how to make people live a long time.
Tana Amen: I don't want to be on a ventilator. I don't want to be on dialysis.
Dr. Daniel Amen: As a neurosurgical ICU nurse. You know how to live. But people also say, "I can't afford to eat healthy when the Harvard School of Public Health said, eating healthy cost you an extra dollar fifty a day." So if you just give up-
Tana Amen: Cut out Starbucks. Which is about four bucks a day.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. So you're going to be ahead. I don't have time to eat healthy. The Almond Milk Cappuccino I make you every morning in the middle of feeding the dog, feeling the cat, takes about five minutes.
Tana Amen: And smoothies are you're go to fast food.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right.
Tana Amen: It's a smoothie. It's like, come on.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Why do you have to be so radical. It's because I radically love myself. So quickly-
Tana Amen: And I radically don't want to be sick again.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, cancer sucks.
Tana Amen: It sucks.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And having it come back three times sucks.
Tana Amen: And being depression sucks.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. Quickly, food rules. Got to know the food rules and these are the ones I talk about in the book. Concentrating on brain smart calories. So calories matter but the quality of them matters more. So know how many calories you're eating in a day, especially of you need to lose weight. Make water your beverage of choice because 80% of your brain is water. So drinking a lot of water, don't go crazy with it.
Tana Amen: But there's ways to make it interesting and we write about that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Having eight to ten glasses a day. Small amounts of protein several times a day. Protein with each meal helps to balance the blood sugar.
Tana Amen: And we're not ... key word on small. It does not need ... we're not talking high protein diets.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, for some people-
Tana Amen: High quality-
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... like people who have ADD, high protein diets can be really helpful for them because it stabilizes their blood sugar.
Tana Amen: But not at the expense of eating your vegetables.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But people who have OCD, for people who have OCD then that will actually make them concentrate on things that bother them.
Tana Amen: Right, but we still want you getting your fiber and your greens.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Absolutely. That's why the Atkins diet ... I'm a fan of it for some things like people who have seizure disorders. I'm not a fan of it in general because it's basically devoid of color fruits and vegetables.
Tana Amen: Well and sometimes initially to kick start ... get someone on track and then ... but then you need to start getting that fiber and veggies.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You want to make friends with fat so we are not fans of low fat diets. There's actually a study from the Mayo Clinic-
Tana Amen: There's a lot of studies.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... that people who have a fat based diet had a 70% lower risk of getting Alzheimer's Disease. People on a protein based diet had a 21% lower risk of Alzheimer's Disease and people who had a carbohydrate based diet had a 400% increase risk of having Alzheimer's Disease.
Tana Amen: Because usually if you have carbohydrate based diet you're eating a lot of things that turn to sugar quickly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So I got myself in trouble now but after the election we just had President Obama, he went and handed out donuts at ... And I'm like the president that brought us fearsome is passing out donuts. I was like, "Not happy." And that's not a political statement. I'm like, "Come on. Obamacare should be about prevention, not about let's make them sick." So, the health care thing is just such a mess.
Tana Amen: Not saying a word.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're fans of carbohydrates. But they need to be healthy. What does that mean? High fiber low glycemic carbohydrates. So, that means get rid of or limit bread, pasta, potato, rice, and sugar because they're all high glycemic, raise your blood sugar, low in fiber. But colorful fruits and vegetables. When you wrote the Omni Diet you talked about 70% of a plate should be plant based foods with lots of color and about 30% high quality protein, with a bunch of fat mixed in.
What other rules ... avoid or eliminate things that could hurt you, sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, soy, corn, dairy. And choose organic toxin free foods when you can and you hate Costco and I love Costco.
Tana Amen: No, no. Costco is one of the few places I actually respect.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But you don't like shopping.
Tana Amen: I don't like shopping.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And I love shopping.
Tana Amen: I don't like shopping anywhere.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so, but they have all these-
Tana Amen: But Costco's the one place I actually-
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... organic, clean foods.
Tana Amen: Yeah. No, and if you've got a big family you can't afford not to shop somewhere like that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right.
Tana Amen: If I have to go shopping, they're a good place.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Stay with us. We're going to talk about timing of meals and we're start to talk about foods to choose.
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