Michael McCarthy graduated cum laude from NYU in Management and Finance. He worked on Wall Street since he was only 18. His experience includes working as a researcher for a famous money manager who pioneered market timing. Michael started his own investment firm at 26 and was ranked the #1 market timer in the US every year for 10 years (1994-2004). He retired from Wall Street at 36. Michael McCarthy struggled with anxiety problems for years. The anxiety was so bad it led him to get a formal education in the fields of psychology and nutrition. That is why he is so familiar with the food remedies for common addictions found in this fascinating article.

Michael explored several nutritional anxiety remedies and discovered his nutrition deficiencies. Once he resolved those issues, he was fine. He started a food company and made a Superfood Nutrition Bar he called Budi Bars (www.BudiBar.com). Budi is Indonesian for ‘Wise’ because his food is for the brain. The bar tastes like a gourmet blondie brownie full of nuts, chocolate, seeds and amino acids that together, keep you full, reduce food cravings and allow you to focus and concentrate. The bar won the New England Dessert Expo last year and it’s meant to be a tasty and easy snack to help you through the day. Enjoy this informative article by Michael McCarthy as he mentors us about how foods and addictions affect our brain chemistry.

Recognizing the Need to Improve Our Mood

Good for you for recognizing you need to improve your mood and doing something about it. What I hope to do here is to help you improve your mood and avoid all those nasty side effects in a new way. To keep things simple we are all in the same boat…whether we are smokers, drinkers, shoppers or eaters we all have a brain chemistry (or mood) we don’t like and we’re all going for the quickest and easiest solution that works for our individual brains.

  • Those of us who like alcohol are really seeking out an amino acid in the brain called GABA.  GABA relaxes us and alcohol converts to GABA when it reaches the brain.
  • Those of us who crave ice cream are really seeking out an amino acid in dairy called CASEIN….which is a mild opiate.  Heroin and opium are opiates as well.
  • Chocolate too, has chemicals that act as mild opiates and anti-depressants.  So, when someone says they are a chocoholic they are!  They are seeking the opiates. Granted, this is certainly milder than heroin to be sure but it’s the same drug.
  • Even the ‘good’ addictions are drug seeking.  Aerobic exercise releases chemicals called endorphins. These are opiates as well.  The so called ‘runner’s high’ is in the same class as someone taking opium.

We are all doing the same thing here….we are trying to change our brain chemistry to feel in a better mood.  Since we aren’t brain doctors I’d like to share with you how to change your brain chemistry without all those negative side effects.

Changing Your Brain Chemistry with Nutrition, For Good!

One of the reasons drug rehabs or diets don’t work for all of us is that they don’t always address the underlying problem or cause…brain chemistry. It’s fine to say ‘stop drinking’ or ‘stop eating sweets’ but we’ve only solved half of the problem.  We’ve stopped doing something that’s not good for us in the long run but we are still stuck with a bad mood and stress. What does work is replacing our current solution ‘drinking, smoking, eating etc.’ with a solution that changes your brain chemistry for the better without all those negative side effects like hangovers and obesity.

The vitamins and amino acids found in certain foods can change our brain chemistry for the better.  Very likely you may be deficient in vital amino acids and vitamins that are throwing off your brain chemistry. Also, some of these same vital nutrients can be depleted through drinking alcohol or drugs, which is where those nasty hangovers and withdrawal symptoms come from. So, if you look at your brain as your medicine cabinet you need to fill it up again in healthier ways. For example, if you are low in Vitamin B complex you may very well experience depression.  Alcohol strips out Vitamin B which is one of the reasons we can feel depressed after a night of heavy drinking. The vicious cycle begins here.  It’s very easy to be hungover and sober and think:  “I’m happier drunk” and off we go to drinking again to recapture that better mood.

Whole Foods are the Best Way to Get Vitamins for Your Brain

While vitamin supplements can provide assistance, supplements are not the best way to get the vitamins absorbed in the body.  A better way is to get those vitamins through food. For example, beta carotene in carrots helps night vision.  However, beta carotene tablets do not help night vision. Why? There are other components in the carrot that helps the cells absorb the beta carotene. Food, and the vitamins and amino acids that they contain, can help the underlying cause of addiction—-by improving brain chemistry in a more healthy way without the side effects. By focusing on foods that help lower stress you can reduce the need for addictive behaviors.

Here’s a quick start to help you:

Food for Depression:

Low Vitamin B levels can create an environment for feeling depressed.  One of the best sources of Vitamin B comes from red meat.  So, yes, a nice grass fed, hormone free steak will help you. It’s difficult to measure accurately people’s level of Vitamin B and different people are unique as to how much they need.  People with the ‘O’ blood type tend to need more than people with blood type ‘A’.  Gauge yourself and listen to your meat cravings. Try a good steak once a week and see how you feel.

Food for Anxiety:

Typically, people who are anxious are low in magnesium.  Interestingly enough, magnesium is what makes vegetables green.  Typically, the darker the green the higher the magnesium. The best magnesium sources are kale and spinach.  And the more you cook a vegetable the more nutrients get boiled away.  Sesame seeds are also high in magnesium.  Eat as much as you like.  If kale and spinach are not your favorites you can freeze them and put them in smoothies, then you can’t taste them.

Food to Balance and Enhance Mood:

Omega 3s rich in the components EPA and DHA is a great solution to steady a wandering mind or the rapid, random thoughts that can create confusion. There are two active ingredients in Omega 3 that help with mood stabilization and enhancement…they are called EPA and DHA.  The best sources of EPA and DHA come from salmon and hemp seed. Salmon is expensive and you need such large quantities you may need to go towards Omega 3 Fish Oil….make sure the EPA and DHA levels are high by comparing nutrition labels. A vegetarian form of Omega 3 that is inexpensive is hulled hemp seed or hemp oil capsules. It is s cheaper than fish oil and has no fishy taste. It is delicious….soft and nutty and very nutritious.  Sprinkle on salads, soups and yogurt.

Final Thoughts from Michael McCarthy, Creator of Budi Bars

Using nutrition to understand how your brain works is just another tool you can use while you explore healthier alternatives to manage uncomfortable emotions. I hope this article is useful to all readers. Just try out some of the ideas that appeal to you, whether you struggle a lot, or a little. Most of all, be gentle with yourself. Find mentors that will help you in your journey.

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6 Responses to “Overcoming Addiction with Nutrition, Part 2/2, by Mentorologist Michael McCarthy”

  1. Evy Nelson

    I love your bars but have been recently diagnosed with Divurticulosis. Would grinding the seeds change the chemical make-up of the bar rendering its usefulness as a ” super food”?

    • michael mccarthy

      ‘Thanks for enjoying Budi Bars! Grinding the seeds would not render the bar useless as a superfood. However, cooking the seeds (which are raw) would leech out and reduce the nutritional value. Microwaving would radiate out virtually all nutrient content just as it does with most food. The only change you’ll get is a texture/mouth feel change. The crunch will be reduced. I like to grind seeds in a small coffee grinder so you just grind what you eat right away. The hull of the seeds preserve it. Once you grind it the shelf life reduces because the inner part of the seed where the oil is can go rancid faster when exposed to oxygen. I hope this helps. Here is a link to our superfood cooking show “Wisdom to Wellness” which has superfood recipes that contain no seeds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MsmjmCE00g Feel free to write with any more questions. Michael@BudiBar.com

  2. Anonymous

    I think it is very irresponsible of you to market your bars as health foods when their nutrition content is not much better than a standard cookie. I’ve tried your bars a handful of times and they taste fine, but you are doing people a disservice by trying to make them into something they are not. (It also wouldn’t hurt if you were a little nicer to your customers. Perhaps you don’t realize that people recognize you when you are not in a Whole Foods but I once heard you on the phone calling all women “pigs” for buying so many of your bars. It was rude and kind of felt like you were admitting you agree these aren’t healthy.) Best of luck in your endeavor.

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