What Happened When I Ate Brain Food For A Week

 This influencer ate for her mental health for 7 days — and found a new favorite food

It can be hard to make New Year’s resolutions that stick. It can be even harder when you’re not seeing results! We’re here to help you out: For our New Year, New You series with Walmart, we asked different influencers to test out some real, attainable wellness challenges from experts in their fields — and to journal about their results. First up? Nutrition. 

The Challenge: 

Dr. Drew Ramsey, a nutritional psychiatrist and author of the upcoming book Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety, studies the impact of diet on mental health. He gave a seven-day framework for anyone trying to boost their mood, energy and mental clarity: 

  • Eat 1 serving of leafy greens – raw or cooked – every day. 
  • Eat seafood three times this week. Top choices are wild salmon, anchovies, and wild shrimp
  • Do a mindful dark chocolate eating exercise three times this week. Very slowly, let a piece of solid dark chocolate melt in your mouth over 2-3 minutes. Really focus mindfully on the mouth feel, the texture, and the taste. 
  • Eat fermented foods 3 times this week! Live bacteria in fermented foods are amazing for the gut and can help with mood and anxiety. Great choices are kombucha, sauerkraut, and Kefir. 

The Subject: 

Lauren Castle, a Walmart Market Health & Wellness Director in Dayton, OH. 

I’m super passionate about nutrition. But even I struggle at times at getting in all the good food I need to help my brain function at its best. (This is true especially after the holidays, when I indulged in a lot of delicious meals that aren’t part of my normal diet!) While some people might think that a seven-day challenge starting on January 1st is a cliché New Year’s Resolution, I think it’s a perfect time to start fresh!


  • Day 1: For New Year’s Day, I had greens and black-eyed peas! I went shopping at Walmart and bought everything I’d need for this challenge for the week for under $50!
  • Day 2: I made wild-caught salmon with kimchi and grass-fed butter with a side of Brussels sprouts, then I savored some dark chocolate for dessert.
  • Day 3: I had “green eggs and ham” (scrambled eggs with sauteed spinach) for breakfast and sauteed cabbage for dinner.
  • Day 4: I started my day with a brain food smoothie for breakfast: spinach, mixed berries, coconut yogurt, hemp hearts, and cacao powder. For dinner I made cauliflower crust pizza with veggies and anchovies! It was my first time trying anchovies, and they were actually pretty good! I paired this with my GT’s Kombucha.
  • Day 5: Brain food smoothie for breakfast, and for dinner I made “midnight pasta” which is fresh chopped garlic and anchovies sauteed in olive oil until it all melts together, poured over pasta and topped with crushed red pepper flakes. I also sauteed some wild caught shrimp to serve with it and mixed in some fresh arugula. It was delicious!
  • Day 6: Another breakfast brain food smoothie, and I had my leftover anchovy pasta because it was just that good!
  • Day 7: The final day! One more smoothie for breakfast, and for dinner, I made the classic Caesar salad with olive oil, avocado oil, eggs, garlic, lemon juice, and the remaining anchovies, all emulsified in the blender and poured over crisp romaine lettuce. It was phenomenal. I am an anchovy enthusiast!

The Results: 

Overall, these seven days were the best start to 2021! I feel great and am proud of myself for meeting my challenge goals for the week. My biggest surprise was that I became an anchovy lover, which taught me that it’s so important to keep an open mind and be willing to try new things. 

I definitely plan to continue incorporating all of these foods into my eating habits going forward so that these benefits will continue beyond the seven days. What I loved about this challenge is that it didn’t require me to cut anything out of my diet, but to focus on adding in healthier foods. I’d recommend this challenge to anyone who wants to feel better mentally and physically, and experience the power of food to improve your brain health. 

Consult with your doctor before you start any new routine or diet.
Lauren Castle, PharmD, MS, is a Walmart Market Health & Wellness Director based in Dayton, Ohio. Follow @DrLaurenCastle on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.