Food Mood: Do Adults Need Behavior Charts Too?
Recently I was asked by a parent how she could start logging her child’s food intake and daily behavior. I gave her a suggestion that was passed on to me by another mom of a dye-sensitive kid – include your child’s school behavior charts in your 2-week analysis. Then analyze behavior charts again after eliminating food dyes from your family’s diet.
I have been faithfully logging my own food intake for a few months, for the purpose of counting calories and losing weight. But this morning, something occurred to me. I was looking at yesterday’s food log, and remembering that bad crash I had after eating some homemade agave nectar caramels. I had gotten fatigued, irritable, super sleepy, and generally miserable.
My crash was so bad that I decided to do some research into agave nectar. I was surprised to find out that agave nectar, which has been gaining popularity as an alternative to sugar, is actually worse than high fructose corn syrup. The reasoning is that agave nectar has a much higher ratio of fructose to glucose than HFCS. So, what has been touted as a low glycemic index food, is really quite the opposite. In addition, it’s been known to cause severe allergic reactions in people, and it can’t truly be called a “raw food” because it’s processed at high temperatures. Perhaps it deserves an appropriate acronym: HFAN? But this is all beside my point…
Looking at my food log, I noticed that my handwriting was different yesterday than it was today. Yesterday, I was mixing up letters, scribbling over and trying a few times to spell things right, not able to really get a good grip on the pen (I remember the difficulty), and I was writing in a generally sloppy way. Today, my writing is a whole lot more legible, it’s easier to accomplish, and I’m feeling so much better. This reminded me of those astonishing handwriting comparisons on the Feingold Association’s web site – the ones where kids would give writing samples before and after consuming food coloring. I know I have sensitivities to MSG and to artificial food coloring (see My Rainbow Connection)…I started to realize that I may be witnessing how food is directly affecting me, by the small act of journaling.
So now, I have to ask, are kids the only ones who need behavior charts? I think it would be VERY beneficial for adults to finally start paying attention to how the foods they put into their bodies are affecting their happiness, mood, and behavior. Our trips to popular theme parks have convinced me of this…lousy additive-laden food, plus a kid innocently feeding some of his popcorn to a squirrel/being too afraid to go in a haunted house ride/needing a diaper change (darn kids!), equals really over-the-top-dramatic parent. I thought back to all the crappy days and regrettable moments I’ve had, and wondered if I could have literally “fueled” my own misery with my food choices.
If the old adage, “You are what you eat” is true, then yesterday, I was some Agitated Agave. I’ve been Muddled MSG and Disturbed Dye before, but this was a new one for me. And that’s why food diaries are an important tool.
Maybe I’ll start adding notes about my own behavior and mood in my dieting log. Wanna join me? Just for two weeks? If we want to test our kids for food sensitivities, doesn’t it make sense that those kids’ genetic predecessors should be tested, too? Check back at the end of your test and let me know if you saw any patterns…