The Proof Is In The Pudding: My Two-Week Food Mood Log Results
A couple of weeks ago, my extraordinary experience with some agave nectar prompted me to think about how foods affect our physical and mental well being – both kids and adults. In Food Mood: Do Adults Need Behavior Charts Too? I sort of issued a challenge for myself and anyone else who is interested: To log the foods and drinks consumed for two weeks, plus daily notes on mood and behavior.
I ate mostly natural and organic foods during the test period, with the exception of a couple of restaurant meals (pizza, all natural salad bar, chicken salad sandwich). Disclaimer: Those “oreos” you see on my food log were all natural from Trader Joe’s – those damn delicious Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s…a girl’s gotta have a little chocolate! While I didn’t have any more major episodes like that with the agave nectar, I did notice a difference in the way I felt, the way I dealt with difficult situations, and my energy levels. I had a super productive couple of weeks and had an easier time staying calm during trying moments with my daughter. But nearly every mid-afternoon I would get really drowsy and start brewing the coffee. I can see from my food logs on those days, that I wasn’t consuming any protein for breakfast. It confirmed what I had always believed about my own metabolism – that cereal for breakfast just didn’t cut it.
A little background info about me: I tried a vegetarian diet for one whole year in 2009-2010, thinking that it was healthier for my body. I failed to take into consideration my particular family history, and ended up so severely anemic that I could not lift my own child anymore. I was sleepy, fatigued, cranky, irritable, addle-brained, weak, and unmotivated. I was so sick that my poor veins didn’t even wanna give up a drop of my precious life-juice during a blood test – The nurse cursed my “rolling veins” (I like to think they’re just highly evolved for self-preservation). She had to stick me in both arms and feet before my body would finally cooperate. Worse, I had gained 15 pounds and my cholesterol shot up high enough to concern my doctor. He prescribed one year of alarmingly gigantic doses of iron supplements. And he told me to start eating meat again, for cryin’ out loud…which I did…apprehensively at first.
Within days of changing my diet and taking my iron supplements, I was feeling like Super Woman. I could think straight, I had tons of energy and motivation, and I could pick up my daughter and even piggy-back-ride her across a huge parking lot. I had rockstar veins again, rocketing blood into those tubes so fast, the nurse could barely keep up. So, it seems that my particular body needs more protein than others. I am at peace with that. I just seem to forget it every once in a while…which is why my food log for this past two weeks has been a useful tool in getting the most out of my food. I will be adding lots of protein to my brekky from now on.
But these past two weeks during my own food mood test did not go by without incident, nooooo. Needless to say I pay close attention to what our daughter eats, ever since we discovered our food coloring sensitivity this summer. Every once in a while, though, my husband wonders if the food coloring really was the culprit. He’s great like that. Always curious, always asking questions. Only occasionally annoying. So hey, it was about time for our peaceful life to have a little ripple, right? I’m not proud to admit that I *accidentally* dipped my toe into that placid lake and produced the wave that would once again convince my husband of the evils of synthetic food coloring. Allow me to set the scene for you…
The day before Thanksgiving this year, I picked up a quick barbecue dinner family pack from a seemingly hip and conscientious restaurant run by gourmet chefs. It included pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, and “homemade” banana pudding. I admit that I forgot to ask the staff for an ingredients list for the pudding while I was there – I blame it on my pre-holiday travel prep rush. When I got home, I realized what I’d done. I tried calling the restaurant five or six times, but they were already closed. I quickly did some online research. With their reputation for using local foods and supporting sustainable efforts, I thought it would probably be okay to let her have the “homemade” banana pudding from that restaurant.
Sweet Jesus on a Cheetoh. Within 10 to 20 minutes of finishing her meal and dessert, our daughter suddenly changed. This reasonable and self-possessed kid reacted to a small change in our holiday travel schedule with screaming, crying, aggressive posturing, and dramatic delusions of present injustices and future oppression. Luckily, I recognized this as her long since gone symptoms of an allergy to synthetic Yellow 5 food coloring (“yell-o”, as my friend and mom of a dye-sensitive kid, calls it).
Lesson learned. Never assume. Always ask. And if you cannot find out what’s in your food, don’t eat it.
I really hope that adults will begin to finally pay more attention to what they consume, too. As I’ve said before, if we parents are concerned enough to pay attention to what our children eat and how that affects them, then why not apply the same standards to ourselves – the ones who are, in most cases, the genetic predecessors of those kids? I think it’s just too easy to blindly munch all day on whatever is around (especially stay at home parents) whether it’s because we have low energy and think we need a calorie boost, or because we eat for emotional reasons. Side note: I like what Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, recently said about our mindless eating habits – “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not really hungry.” And incidentally, apples have recently been touted as a great energy booster, even rivaling the magic of our morning coffee’s caffeine.
Soooo, will you take my challenge to pay attention to your foods, drinks, and mood for two weeks? You may be surprised by what you learn about yourself. Please leave a comment or e-mail me your results at admin[at]diefooddye[dot]com, and I’ll post you up on the site.