The Healthy Bear on the Afternoon Grumps!

Hey there Guys,

Do you ever get home after a huge day at work feeling grumpy?

As much as I hate to admit it I have to confess that it used to happen to me on a semi regular basis. The day would start out fine, I’d have my coffee and eggs for breakfast, work till about midday then take a quick lunch break. Twelve thirty, and I’m ready to get stuck back onto the grindstone until about five. To be honest, by about four in the afternoon I was frequently starting to feel tired. By five my brain was starting to shut down. My concentration was way off, it didn’t take too much to get me irritated, and god help the world if my train was running late…

Thankfully my partner Nick is a very understanding man and knows that this sometimes grumpy bear needs a bit of wind down time after a day at work. He also knows the magic secret to a happy bear…food!

For years I always thought that I was an emotional eater; you know, I would get sad or grumpy and eating would make me feel better. Sadly this pattern did lead to some pretty poor food choices with some of the worst when I was really quite frazzled.

Hunger can change your brain!

Just this week a came across a very interesting post by a fantastic colleague of mine Dr John Briffa, a wonderful doctor and world expert on dietary treatments of many diseases. In his post he highlights a recent case in the UK where a High Court Judge was currently on charges for beating his wife after she had not cooked his dinner. The article is interesting to read:

Allen told the court he was in an ‘irritable’ mood. ‘When I entered the kitchen I actually said to my wife I was not happy… ‘I said I had been upstairs for an hour-and-a-half and I had nothing to eat all day.’ A row followed, which Allen said became ‘somewhat heated’

I can clearly relate to days where I have been so busy to not have lunch and being very irritable by the end of the day. Again, once food was back in my system I would calm down and start to feel normal again.

As Dr Briffa talks about in his post:

Let me paint a picture of a typical scenario…

Someone has a sandwich for lunch at work at about 12.30, and then eats little or nothing before they come home, often at 7.30 or later. By their own admission, they are often ‘starving’ at this time. Hunger and a bit of blood sugar dysregulation from eating a sandwich may well have led to a bit of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia).

One potential effect here is for the body to turn on the ‘stress’ response through, for example, the secretion of adrenaline (epinephrine). Low blood sugar can causes quite profound changes in mood, not least of all because it can cause increases in the levels of glutamate in the brain, which increases excitability.

Some of you will know this from your experience of kids. If children, especially quite young ones, are not ‘fed on time’, they can morph into ‘little monsters’. They’re not monsters, of course, but when their brains don’t get the fuel needed for proper functioning they can sure look that way. It’s pretty much the same with many adults, though.

So, someone coming home in this ‘heightened’ state is normally not the best version of themselves they can be. Here’s a few ways this phenomenon can manifest:

  • Worker comes home ‘frazzled’ and partner wants to tell him/her about important things that have happened during the day. The worker’s attention, however, is on the fridge or kitchen cupboards.
  • Worker comes home and reaches for wine, beer or gin and tonic in an effort (unconsciously) to get their blood sugar levels up (alcohol now being used a substitute for food).
  • Worker comes home and in their ‘excitable’ state manages to fund fault with something quite minor like the fact that there’s some toys in the hallway or, ahem, dinner is going to be ‘half an hour’.

I cannot tell you how often individuals fall foul of this. My experience is that it affects the majority of workers I talk to. The other problem with coming home too hungry is that it generally leads to overeating (and over-drinking).

These issues are so very often ‘cured’ just by ensuring that rampant hunger and low blood sugar are kept at bay in the late afternoon and early evening. For most people, what this amounts to is eating a handful or two of nuts between lunch and dinner.

Basically if you miss lunch your blood sugar can drop leading to a stress response that can include confusion, irritability, anger and mental clouding. This is the exact same “psychiatric features” found in people living with anorexia. Guess what? Those same symptoms in anorexia disappear when the patient starts to eat again. Hmmm…interesting don’t you think?

Grab a snack and lift your mood!

So how to we get some good quality energy source into the body that is going to settle the mind but not send us over-eating or gaining weight? As mentioned by Dr Briffa, just a handful of nuts can help keep blood sugar levels even out and satisfy those hunger pangs. Cakes, sugary foods and sweets are not the best choices as they make the blood  sugar spike up quickly which then results an equally sudden drop afterwards and we are back exactly where we started.

Some of the best nuts that are good for the brain, the heart and general health include almonds, walnuts and pecans. Cashew nuts can be good but they are a little higher in bad fats. I hate to be the one to break the bad news but peanuts are not a good choice due to their low protein content, and they are very high in fats that lead to high cholesterol and lipids in the blood.

If you are a keen shopper you can buy up once a week, make some cool little snack bags and then throw them into your briefcase for your day at work. To be honest I hate shopping and when I wake up one of the most likely things I am going to forget is those extra nibbles. Well that was until a mate of mine put me onto the really cool service called Harvest Box.

Seriously guys I freaking love this company. For less then $7 a week I have a delivery to my work of four fabby snack packs of nuts, dried fruit and even a few crackers and dark chocolate pieces.  Given that I work four days a week the box lasts me a whole week! Each snack pack is just enough to kill the hunger pangs and keep me going till dinner time.

Now if you are allergic to some foods like I am all you need to do is go though and rate the ones you don’t want (because you are allergic) as a no thanks. Just that process enough was getting me excited with some of the treats I was going to be sent!

Some of my favourites are :

Harvest Box Wild Side

Mulberries, Walnuts & Cranberries

Harvest Box Fruit And Nuts

Hazelnuts, Raisins & Dark Chocolate

Harvest Box Omega Mix

Dried Banana & Walnuts

You can check out all the range by clicking over to Harvest Box Here.

If you are interesting in trying them out I have a special coupon for you to use. Just copy and paste the following code into the first page 296203W5HCE  This will get you your very first box of four snacks delivered to you for free!

How cool is that? (Just so you know I get nothing for sharing that code other than the joy of knowing I helped you get something I love for free!)

Anyways guys, just wanted to share this great find. Let me know if you like the idea. Sadly this is for the Aussies only. If you are in the states and know of a company that does a similar product, please drop me an email and I’ll be sure to include it!

Remember if you suddenly realise you are starting to feel a bit out of sorts in the afternoon it might just be your blood sugar levels getting low. Have a quick snack before you say or do something that you may regret later!

Yours in good health!

Dr George

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