Up until Monday, there had been an unopened box of mini candy canes in my pantry for two months. I purchased them for a specific Christmas cookie recipe: Cherry Tassies.
Every time I went in the pantry and saw them, I was torn: make the darn cookies already or just throw the candy canes away (and find another use for the jar of cocktail cherries taking up space in the fridge).
|Cherry Tassies (BHG.com).|
Against my better dieter’s-judgment, I made them. T Junior helped crush the candy canes with a kitchen mallet (and he still has all his fingers!) and pour measured ingredients into the mixing bowl.
The cookies turned out delicious, but…
they are 120 calories. Each.
Mr. T, who is also dieting, was not happy. I took a few to Zoë (sorry!) and brought all, but a few, to work on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning, however, I ate one before I left my house. Just one. I was resolute. But then people were eating them and saying how yummy they were. I had another one “as my mid-morning snack. I’m still good.”
But the early sugar doomed me. I felt hungry all day and normally I’m not like that. I wanted to eat, eat, eat as I sat at my desk. Luckily, I didn’t have anything to eat. Except…Wait. What’s this?
A bag of butter-flavor popcorn beckoned from my desk drawer. It was 2:30 and I was about to eat my arm. I’ll run tonight on the treadmill, I reasoned as I hustled down the stairs to the microwave. Upon return to my desk, I inhaled the entire bag. There was nothing left but the grease on my fingertips. I licked that off, too.
About an hour later, I (of course) didn’t feel good. I also didn’t feel well…in the head. I started getting sad. I wasn’t sad before. Now, I was just down. And I couldn’t figure out why. So I had another Cherry Tassie.
Being home didn’t help. T Junior was crying about everything. I changed into my workout clothes because we were supposed to play the Kinect dance game, but he didn’t want to dance. Our three dogs were roughhousing, and being loud and annoying. Then T Junior decided he did want to dance, but to our own music. But my Zune needed to be synced and I couldn’t remember the account info. So no music.
I perked up a little when I heard the garage door opening early. Mr. T! He helped me with the music situation, but by then it was too late for dancing and now T Junior was having meltdowns all over the place. He was a minefield of meltdowns!
Mr. T was trying to stay calm amidst complete emotional chaos. I wanted to make mini Thomas English Muffin pizzas with T Junior, but he wanted to play with his trains. Well, the whole point of making the mini pizzas was for him! I didn’t want mini pizzas!
I started crying. I didn’t want to cry. I just felt so down. What happened? I kept thinking. Why am I a complete emotional wreck? Snap out of it, you dummy! But I couldn’t.
Still. We needed to have dinner. I made T Junior a cheese roll-up (read: quesadilla) with sour cream for dipping and some diced avocados (his favorite), and me and Mr. T had yummy quiche leftovers.
T Junior scarfed his dinner. Poor guy. He was hungry, which was what the meltdowns were all about. I’d given him a snack when we got home, but apparently it wasn’t enough. He even got a “special treat” (half of a mini ice cream sandwich) for eating all his dinner.
But I did not get a special treat last night. Even though I ate all my dinner.
What was surprising, however was that, like T Junior, I felt better after eating (a real) dinner, too.
Today, I really believe that the junk food I ate on Tuesday resulted in a complete mood change.
Everything else was the same: breakfast was my typical oatmeal, lunch was my regular salad and a small portion of leftover dinner (which was pretty light), and I drank my water.
So, can food affect our emotional state?
I did a quick search online and it turns out that it can, at least according to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, M.D. In a December 2009 article published by The Center for Food Development, Dr. Wilson wrote, “An intimate relationship exists between nutritional imbalances and psychological or behavioral symptoms and conditions.” He says it’s sometimes called the body-mind connection. He goes on to explain how food can cause a number of mental illnesses and diseases, including autism, learning disabilities and depression, among many others. I know there is a lot of debate over this, especially with autism.
But I felt it yesterday. I’m convinced that the excess sugar (that I’m not used to having anymore) and salty, fatty popcorn (not the light kind I typically have) contributed, at least, to me feeling the way I did. I’m sure making poor choices had something to do about the way I felt about myself, too.
What do you think? Have you experienced this before? If you used to make a lot of poor choices (and have since changed your diet), how does this make you feel about the way you used to eat?
ive never thought about it that way. ive always known my mood affect what i eat but not the other way around. now that i think about it i always feel a little depressed and sluggish when i eat crap…you are what you eat i suppose!!!
Definitely.I wholeheartedly agree that food can affect our moods, and most people are completely oblivious to this.Somebody – like yourself – who is accustomed to a modest diet, will quickly make the correlation between their crappy mood and the foods they've eaten. They know to ask “hey, this isn't normal. What did I do differently?” and they can pinpoint when the wagon tipped over.But the majority of Americans are out of touch with their bodies. They've adapted to feeling crappy all. the. time.So they self-medicate with more junk, feel worse, and medicate more. Around and around it goes…When I pursue my Masters, I'm planning my dissertation to focus on the link between depression and poor eating habits. Do we eat because we're frustrated and depressed, or are we depressed and frustrated because of what we eat?Great post (and I bet those cookies were AWESOME)
I definitely agree that food effects our moods, and I think it's right down to a chemical level, not just a mental feeling of failure over not meeting diet goals (which also happens.) I've always meant to research it a bit more but haven't gotten that far. I also know that eating not enough of certain things (ahem, FAT) makes me cranky as well. Got to remember to throw some good fats into the mix so I won't rip the kids heads off next time they are acting. 🙂
Oh my goodness!I just came across your blog and absolutely love your writing and your blog!!!I'll be following your posts.Thanks for what you write!!!
AGH I can relate so much to this!!! I sometimes final myself feeling literally depressed after eating junk food and/or bingeing. And yet I can't rememeber this before it happens the next time??
Totally agree here!! I often am short tempered, grumpy or quick to cry when I eat crappy…but oh those cookies look SOOO amazing. I just have really terrible will power!
So true. I find that if I have something sweet in the morning (like a muffin or treat-ish thing that I don't normally eat) then it starts a downward spiral for the whole day. I eat crappy and feel crappy.
now this is one of the best posts I have ever seeen on food/mood.I have printed this out.All I know is when I workout early. I eat better all day and WITHOUT question…..I eat better.
Your entire read about food & mood is so true! I made some heart-shaped sugar cookies and put them in the freezer (for the kids upcoming Valentine playdates)… and they just keep calling my name. For the most part, I do well – but if I have just ONE, it's a slippery slope from there…. down that hatch! Ahhh!