Q: I have your Food & Mood book, but am afraid that if I eat all the food your recommend, I’ll gain weight.
– Elizabeth in Boonsboro, Maryland

A: This will come as a surprise, but the menus and recommended food intakes in my Food & Mood book average only about 2,000 calories a day, which is less than what most women should consume, so most women will lose weight if they follow the menus exactly. The average woman who is 5’4″, weighs about 120 pounds, and is only moderately active should consume 2, 200 calories a day, according to the experts who devised the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). Most women consume more than this and gain weight because their diets contain processed foods high in fat, calories, and sugar. The trick is that when you fill the plate with mood-boosting fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other nutritious foods, you cut your intake of high-calorie processed items, so you eat more food for less calories and feel satisfied. If you do gain weight on the menus, then I suggest your first plan of attack would be to increase your activity level. Second to that, cut out one snack from the menus, which will drop the energy intake to about 1,800 calories a day. -Elizabeth Somer