Most people tend to be quite aware of how they feel WHEN they eat something. That first big bite of an ice cream and candy shake can leave us rolling our eyes and licking our lips in the simple bliss of one of life’s most common and sought after pleasures; a tasty treat. At times we have all used food or drink to help us feel cheery, comforted, calmer, or even push our own internal buttons to signal we should now be entering wired hyper-drive. I remember the years of my high school friends’ Mt. Dew abuse. Funny they don’t have a support group for that? Hi, my name is John and I’m an…hey look at that pickup truck driving by! Let’s see if we can catch it on foot!
So we all usually notice how we feel WHEN we eat something. But a major breakthrough in creating more happiness in my own life came when I started noticing how I felt AFTER I ate something. I started to discover that about 2 hours after eating many types of junk food, that there is a good reason to call it that because I felt like TRASH! I was sleepy, groggy, edgy, and at times almost unable to put together a complete sentence. Now I might be one of the lucky ones who has a strong and adverse reaction to unhealthy food. But many people have unpleasant symptoms fairly frequently, and haven’t connected the bright pink green and orange candy DOTS to discover that much of their misery comes from what they had to eat or drink, hours or sometimes even days earlier.
Take eggs for example. Several years ago when I was having some pretty rotten energy problems, I discovered through a simple and free test I did at home, that a lot of my symptoms were made far worse shortly after I ate anything that contained eggs. Since eggs are in lots of products I usually had a small dose at least one or two times a day. Once I did a more standard home test of avoiding the suspect food for 2-3 weeks and then eating some, it was confirmed that eggs had been knocking me down for months or years! After I rigorously avoided them, any accidental exposure would cause my mind and legs to quit working normally and I would fall into an egg induced comma for about a 5-10 hour nap. (Most people with food sensitivities get FAR more sensitive once they quit eating that food, but they overall get much better.) My family had seen me fall prey to an accidental baked-goods sneak attack a few times during those years. Once, when I was starting to slur my words and make sensical non-sentences, my daughter stopped and asked me, Mommy, is your brain on eggs?” Yes, it was!!!
It took me years to discover this problem, but I had a long history of a racing heart with palpitations. But a few years ago I read a book about food sensitivities, and it explained a simple way to do a preliminary test. (Allergy tests are very expensive and only come back positive in the worst of cases, though many people would feel better to avoid some things regularly.) So here is how to do the test. Take your resting heart rate before eating something. Count the full minute because an exact number will be important as you will see in a minute. Then after eating something (you can do one food at a time to narrow it down) take your resting pulse again 30, 60 & 90 minutes later. If your pulse jumps or slows more than 4 points, it’s a sign your body in it’s current state of health may do better to cut back or avoid those things that trigger a change in heart rate. For someone like me, who even though I was physically fit, could experience a resting heart rate of 100 bpm and a total loss of energy, completely avoiding the food became the only sane thing to do. At least until my health improved and I found a therapy to rid myself of that sensitivity. Though avoiding mayonnaise and breaded fried-foods made life a real pain for a while, I was glad to discover that for me eggs were a no-no so I could retain consciousness at the dinner table.
There are many things that can cause you to feel rotten an hour or two after you eat them and it doesn’t have to be a food sensitivity. Refined carbs and sugars can crash your blood sugar, caffeine can trigger anxiety attacks, and some food additives such as MSG can trigger severe responses in some people up to two days later. Chinese on Sunday, and crazy on Tuesday! But today on my lunch break, I’ve been enjoying my homemade pasta and sauce, something I personally tend to get lots of sustained energy from. And, its got my own special food “additive;” a yellow spice called turmeric which has near miracle healing properties. I hope to hook you all on it sometime in the near future. But for now, Happiness Hunters, consider keeping a simple food journal of your own. Jot down what you eat and how you feel throughout the day, and see if you can start to distinguish any patters. Omelet anyone?