WASHINGTON – Does the connection between mood and food have anything to do with how the prisoners are fed at Guantanamo Bay (search)?
In thinking about the proportions of what is served, it seems pretty clear that it does. For example, there are two servings of starch at every meal. Eating carbohydrates releases a hormone called serotonin (search) into the bloodstream. Serotonin has a relaxing and calming effect.
Every carbohydrate has this effect when consumed. But for a cheap carbohydrate (search) fix, we here on the outside will often eat simple carbs — chips, candy, or chocolate. Because these foods don't take very long to digest, the serotonin high is shortlived, and the sugar crash leads to fatigue and mood swings.
Click in the video box to hear Shana discuss how a balanced meal creates personal balance.
The serotonin high obtained from complex carbs isn't as profound (because let's face it, eating a whole wheat bagel doesn't have the same psychological oomph as eating yummy M&Ms), but it lasts much longer.
But there's also a serving of protein at every meal. Protein has the opposite physiological effect to carbohydrates: It actually makes you feel more energetic and alert.
One can surmise that the protein-carbohydrate balance mitigates the effect of having too much serotonin in the blood too quickly, while at the same time creating effects of satiation and happiness.
As we've been saying all week, we feel more satisfied on the Gitmo diet than on our usual diets — the only problem is that the total lack of sugar feels really punitive.
It's interesting to note that men and women crave different foods. The only food that men and women crave in about equal numbers is ice cream. What is the only "treat" served to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay? Ice cream on Sundays.
Shana Pearlman is a producer for FOX News Radio's Tony Snow Show and can be reached at email@example.com. Sharon Kehnemui Liss is the politics editor for FOXNews.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.