Monday, 26 April 2010

Food is Mood

Food is medicine. It effects your mood and your behavior. When you think about food as medicine and how it effects you, it is recommended that you take the right type of medicine, in the right dosage and at the right times. Taking the wrong medicine, at the wrong dosage, and at the wrong time turns your medicine into poison.  And I am sure you don't want to be taking poison.

To illustrate how food effects your mood, when clients come in to see me with anxiety or anger issues, one of the first things to look for is their diet.  Low blood sugar has very similar symptoms to anger and anxiety.  A simple shift in some dietary habits and moods can change.

Let's take a quick look at Anxiety or Anger. They are characterized by: racing thoughts, obsessive thoughts, worry, reliving past events, hyper-vigilance, avoidance, restlessness, angry outbursts, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, feeling light-headed, chills or hot flashes and fatigue.

Hypoglycemia, or Low Blood Sugar is characterized by: nervousness, trembling, increased heart rate, palpitations, sweating, hunger, irritability, headache, lack of focus, mental confusion, and in severe cases, unresponsiveness, unconsciousness and convulsions.

Why are the symptoms of anger, anxiety and hypoglycemia so similar?  Because they are caused by the same hormone. Adrenaline....our flight or fight hormones. Anger is the getting ready to fight and anxiety is the flight. It gets the body ready to engage in either beating the crap out of someone or running as fast you can. It increases the heart rate, respiratory rate and sends blow flow to the muscles as well as decreases digestion and stimulates your amydgala of the brain.

Your brain's primary fuel is glucose. When it gets low your brain gets worried and to function well it well tell your adrenal glands to release adrenaline in order to increase glucose. Now your brain is fed, but your body is revved up to fight or flee...thus putting you in a state of anxiety or anger...and you don't know why!

I am advocate of eating food as close to its natural state as possible. We, as humans, prior to the agricultural revolution, lived on lean meats, fruits, veggies and nuts.  Check out how to follow a Paleolithic mimics foods we are designed to eat and can keep our moods and bodies in great shape. I am not an advocate of strict dieting but eating 'clean and lean' or in other words, foods you can gather wearing a loin cloth and carrying a stick, is a good idea.  Also, exercise.  We are designed for movement...not just sitting on the web writing and writing blogs. Which reminds me...time for some stretching.

Thanks Doug for allowing me to invade your post.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. Thank You Shinzen for your very informative post here . . but because I've not been blogging for a few weeks it looks as if no one is taking any notice :-(

    I went on holiday and had some difficulty with Internet connections, then at the end of the hols I went down with one of the nastiest viruses I've ever encountered. I had a very sore throat for six days, found it difficult to speak and my chest is still congested; not great, but on the mend now. Managed a cardio workout this morning . . I snack on dried fruit, nuts and seeds . . just call me 'Sparrow' ;-)

  2. I read it yesterday but was debating on posting a comment. What the heck, I'm here already.

    While I agree that food has a huge effect on mood, many studies have proved this, no amount of food at this point has improved my anxiety much. What would you suggest to someone with Asperger's Syndrome that has anxiety virtually all of the time? I'm told to analyze what causes it, but that advice always comes from neurotypical people that don't understand that Aspie brains are wired a little different.

  3. Mr. Methodic: I you say Aspie brains are wired differently. What I would recommend, if you think your diet is 'good' and you are comfortable with it, then explore other aspects of your life. For instance, your thoughts and how you work with them, etc.

    I used to have panic attacks. Now, I can still feel panic and anxiety, but I work with them differently so as not too feed them. I use them now to trigger calmness and centeredness as opposed to panic.

    So, I hope this is somewhat helpful. Food is Mood...and so is our thinking and outlook on life.

    Hands palm to palm...

  4. I've been working on just acknowledging the anxiety, but not adding any thought to it. Yes, I see it." Then move on.

    With food under control for the last year or so, maybe it is time to exercise instead of sit on my butt. That might help a little.

    Thanks for the reply.