What is your relationship like with “food”? What have you been taught or encouraged to hear about carbohydrates? How would you personally define health without the external appearance? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about how important food is to your brain, body, and happiness with Adrien Paczosa.


Adrien Paczosa (RD, LD, CDERD-S) has more than 20 years of experience working in the dietetic field with a focus on eating disorders, neurochemistry nutrition, and business development. In 2007, Paczosa founded and opened her first private practice in Austin, Texas called iLiveWell Nutrition. A few years later, iLiveWell Nutrition has become Nourish — a nation-wide, virtual-first nutrition group focused on addressing America’s healthcare crisis through greater access to nutrition care. Paczosa now serves as the Chief Clinical Officer of Nourish and what started out as just an idea now serves thousands of patients, nearly all of whom use the service via telehealth and are completely covered by their health insurance. Visit Nourish and connect on Instagram. See also Adrien's personal Instagram account.  


  • How food affects emotions
  • Don’t be scared of carbohydrates!
  • How do you define health without a number?
  • Dietician red flags

How food affects emotions

All emotions start from nutrition. Take serotonin, your happy chemical for example. It is mostly produced in the gut, not only in the brain.
About 60% to almost 80% of your serotonin is made in your gut, your GI system. As we’re using food and digesting food, it’s creating that serotonin. So, if we’re not getting enough nutrition in, there’s absolutely no way that we could really get that serotonin functioning. (Adrien Paczosa)
Additionally, these neurochemicals like serotonin, travel around the body in fat.
So just like [wires wrapped in plastic] our neurons are wrapped in fat, called a myelin sheet, so if we don’t have enough of that protective fat around our neurons, our synapses – the way our brain talks to [itself] – cannot work as efficiently. (Adrien Paczosa)
Therefore, if your fat stores are very low or non-existent, it becomes increasingly difficult for your body to transport these neurochemicals and hormones around the body. In consequence, our cognitive reasoning can become impaired, and our emotions might feel overwhelming and volatile. Look over Adrien’s handout to learn more about these neurochemicals and how to care for them!

Don’t be scared of carbohydrates!

Carbohydrates are incredibly important for your brain's functioning. Nutritious carbohydrate sources, not highly refined ones, feed the brain. You need to fuel your brain and your neurons because poor or unbalanced nutrition can cause mood swings and deeper states of discomfort like depression.
We want to be getting more carbohydrates in to speed up that brain to help us really work. Also, want to get in some good fats and dairy and beans and nuts and leafy greens … fermented foods are magical [too]. (Adrien Paczosa)
During a depression or a difficult relationship with food, eating whole meals with these ingredients can feel almost impossible. However, that’s where it is incredibly helpful to work with a professional who can ease you into it.
What is the carbohydrate's function? And it truly is your brain and your body’s … number one fuel source … a million and 10% yes, you need [carbohydrates]! (Adrien Paczosa)
Carbs are stored in the liver and the muscles. When the body is not receiving carbs from daily food, it will look in the stores and if they are empty, the body will start to break down muscles in the body.

How do you define health without a number?

What does real health and wellness look like to you? What do you imagine your body to feel like when it’s healthy, well taken care of, and nourished? Health is personal. There is no “right way” to look to show that you are healthy because “healthy” looks different in every person due to their genetic variation. If you were to turn the body inside-out, and rather focus on the health of the internal instead of the appearance of the external, your definition of “health” might shift.
  • How’s your sleep?
  • How’s your stress?
  • How’s your water intake?
Just because you’re eating “healthy”, that’s like 25% of the puzzle. It’s also [about] how you feel in this human suit … how’s your mental health? All of those things play a big piece [in] it. (Adrien Paczosa)

Dietician red flags

  • If they recommend that you cut out whole food groups
  • If they demonize certain foods
  • If they celebrate a certain type of food over another
  • If they recommend inappropriate portion sizes



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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