Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Moody Blues

Today I would like to propose an experiment. This is only for those of you who are terribly brave. And single. Because I don't want to be responsible for wrecking anyone's marriage.

Here's what I'm suggesting: there is a link between the foods we eat and the way we feel. Emotionally. There are foods that make us feel good: relaxed, happy, calm, content, peaceful. And there are foods that make us feel other things: anxious, depressed, jittery, angry, resentful, paranoid, hostile, vengeful. Do you know which foods trigger these different moods for you?

One problem with discovering how foods make us feel is that we tend to eat a bunch of different foods all at once. It is probably rare that you eat just an apple or just a bowl of plain shrimp or just a cup of milk. If you eat a chocolate chip cookie and feel like murdering someone, is it the chocolate or the sugar or the flour or the eggs that triggered this reaction?

Here's a little personal experiment I did: I was sitting on my couch (big surprise, right?) and watching TV (another shock to all of you) and feeling hungry (yet again) after already consuming all my meals and snacks for the day. I was craving (I'll bet you can guess this one!) chocolate chip cookies. Of course, we didn't have any in the house. And it was late. Too late to bake. Plus I was in the middle of my Whole 30, and not eating any sugar, flour, blah blah blah. So what did I choose to eat? A pork chop. That's right. A hunk of pure lean animal protein. Pretty far from a chocolate chip cookie, I know.

But here's the kicker: before the pork chop, I was feeling antsy, nervous, hungry, unsettled, unsatisfied. After the pork chop: instant peace. I'm not exaggerating. I felt calm, relaxed, satisfied, ready to brush my teeth and head up to bed. I had not given in to my craving. I had not satisfied my tastebuds who were looking for something sweet. Instead, I'm quite sure that I satisfied my body's actual need. I was probably a bit low on total protein for the day. Once I put some protein in my belly, BOOM! Tranquility.

So why was I craving sweets when what I needed was protein? That is a very good question. Why do we often feel hungry when our bodies are actually thirsty? Why is it we can become seriously dehydrated before that thirst mechanism kicks in and sends a message to the brain? Why do we actually feel hot when we are dying from hypothermia? I have no answers to these questions. All I know is that we can't always trust our bodies and our brains to crave what is best or right. Sometimes we need to make an executive decision and overrule those cravings.

So I invite you to test it out for yourself. The next time you're craving something sweet, try a hunk of protein instead. It doesn't have to be a pork chop! Maybe a salmon steak or some scrambled eggs. And notice the results. Or don't follow my lead. Eat a bag of candy or a cupcake instead and see how you feel after that. Post your results in the comment section below. I'd love to hear what you discover.

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