Think about it: Can a 1,000-calorie diet of pastry, pasta and pizza allow you to lose weight? Junk food creates bad chemistry in the body. They lack vital nutrients such as the vitamins B, C and E, and once in the body, they make amends by depleting the brain, body and bones of every good nutrient available. This affects your brain function, which in turn affects your mental resolve and willpower to eat healthy. What is worse is that this lack of nutrients can set up those nasty sweet and junk food cravings, ensuring that you continue to eat unhealthy food.

What we choose to eat creates hormonal chemistry, which is responsible for hastening or slowing our weight-loss process. It is this very same chemistry that also contributes to mental clarity, decision-making ability, concentration and focus—in effect, it sets the stage for the mindset that makes weight loss possible in the first place.

Go nuts: Like its shape suggests, walnuts are good brain food.

Healthy food and healthy eating practices ensure that you remain calm and have improved levels of concentration. Healthy foods contribute vital nutrients needed for the brain and the body to function properly and, in turn, this helps to strengthen your willpower and self-control. Switching to a healthier lifestyle makes weight loss a whole lot easier.

Brain food

Ensure you include a handful of nuts and seeds in your diet daily. Almonds and walnuts, and flax, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses and rich sources of the healthy omega nutrition, namely, the omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These fats are vital for brain function and several metabolic processes such as maintaining blood pressure, keeping arteries healthy and even keeping waistlines trim. In fact, 60% of our brain structure, which includes neurons or brain cells, is made up of omega fats. Which is why regular consumption of foods that contain the omega fats helps to improve memory and concentration.

Seafood, especially fish which have teeth, such as pomfret, rawas and mackerel, is also very rich in omega-3 fats. The healthier oils in these fish include DHA and EPA (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, which are types of omega-3 fat), which help you avoid mood swings and prevents depression. This, in turn, can keep you motivated to achieve weight-loss goals. So, when you are on a weight-loss plan and are a non-vegetarian, have fish at least three times a week with green, leafy vegetables. The combination of the healthy omega-3 fats in the fish and folate in the leafy greens positively impact your weight-loss plan.

While on a weight-loss plan, also make sure that you eat at least 800g-1kg of multicoloured vegetables daily. Purple, red, yellow, dark green and orange — count at least five colours on your plate for lunch and dinner. Apart from providing energy and improving immunity, vegetables are vital for improved metabolism. For instance, vitamin C in tomatoes helps you absorb the iron in legumes and grains, while vitamin B6 helps with the absorption of protein foods such as fish, and so on.

Craving control

Rich in fibre: Whole cereals and legumes keep bad moods at bay.

Natural, unrefined grains and legumes are also rich in fibre and a host of other nutrients. The brain works best if your daily diet includes some slow energy-release foods such as oats, bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), nachni (ragi or finger millet), rajma (red kidney beans), chana (chickpeas) and chowli (lobia or black-eyed beans).

Madhuri Ruia is a nutrition specialist, functional health and Pilates expert, and founder, HALF, Mumbai’s first functional health studio.

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