December 21, 2014

EVERYDAY GOURMET: Meal Culpa

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By Kim Dannies

A friend sent me this kitschy and it made me realize why fuses DO seem shorter and the line between mere decorum and actual aggression grows blurrier as the autumn days grow darker. Triggering the state of “hangry” creates ugly consequences for us and for the innocent victims in our immediate vicinity. It’s the food equivalent of Flip Wilson’s “the devil made me do it.”

When the body starts to feel hungry (the Brits call it “peckish”) levels of the brain chemical serotonin dip, erupting rabid emotions like anxiety and crabbiness. These fluctuating serotonin levels affect the brain regions that enable us to regulate anger, making us prone to aggression when hungry. The onset of dark winter days compounds this problem.

Williston’s own Dr. Deb Norton says that “not satisfying hunger, for example, when you are dieting or simply don’t have time to eat can cause low blood sugar or clinical hypoglycemia. This happens to a varying degree amongst those of us who do not have diabetes (folks with diabetes can have profound hypoglycemia that can lead to dangerous circumstances). The brain is one of the vital organs that is deprived of sugar or energy during periods of low blood sugar causing symptoms like irritability and moodiness.”

You are human. You ARE going to get hungry. So don’t allow a failure to plan healthy snacks curdle encounters with colleagues and friends. Stick to the rules of the jungle: keep calm, share your bananas, and refrain from patronizing Krispy Kreme shops. And, do your part for world peace: load up a small cooler with the foods that boost serotonin intake such as pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, avocado, dates, bananas, rolled oats, peanut butter, almond butter, fruits and veggies, whole grain crackers, deli turkey, cottage cheese, chocolate milk (and a bit of dark chocolate won’t hurt either).

 

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France.  She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.


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