Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Melt Down and Diabetes

Laura Rowe Photography
 Every family has some sort of "disease" they tend to pass down from generation to generation. Maybe your family has the cancer gene, or a history of heart disease - My family on BOTH sides has quite a bit of diabetes.

My father has been a diabetic for well over a decade. It started simple enough with the warning - eat right and exercise. Then he transitioned to pills, which then led to insulin shots, then to the big one - an insulin pump.

My father was never a big guy, he stayed fairly active until about a year ago. Since he drove a truck for his job, and had to maintain a commercial driver's licence, he was forced to retire on disability once the insulin pump was installed.

What came next.. lord have mercy.
He is not as active as he used to be. For about three-fourths of the year he sat around, which we all agreed he needed to rest. Finally he is starting to move around again, however, he has put on about 40 pounds and his blood sugar levels fluctuate quite severely.

With fluctuations comes the awful mood swings. Holy moly. He has been reduced to this whining, sensitive, "flying off the handle outburst" person. This is the same man who was mild mannered, quiet, and pretty much kept to himself. These outbursts usually follow a meal. They last a couple of hours.. he huffs and puffs, and slams doors, or locks himself in his room to watch some movie and if you ask him a questions he is on the defensive.

Pretty interesting to watch. I don't let it get to me, because I know what is going on. But at the same time.. sheesh.. just lay off the carbs, already!

Then there is my mom, who was recently diagnosed as a diabetic. She takes a pill or two and calls it a day. I laugh, because she has ALWAYS thrown temper tantrums, so who knows what her excuse is.

I share this today, because... I have witnessed numerous melt downs in the past 2 weeks by these people. It reminds me of my five year old niece when she is tired. Out of no where, they start picking on each other and BOOM... the fire works begin, and end as quickly as they started.

Which brings me to the whole point of this post - food and mood swings. I really and truly see the relation. If any of you are nutritionist - do share what you know or write a piece and link it in the comment section!

I know that when I eat something sweet, I feel sooo bad later, like depressed bad. I know that's the sugar high and crash. Or how caffeine puts me in a fantastic mood.

I decided to look up food and mood swings and according to, dietitians are saying - YES. There is a connection.

"The link between food and mood is becoming much more known in a lot of ways," says Lynn Smith, a Boulder, Colo., dietitian who helps patients use dietary changes to wean themselves off anti-depressants or avoid going on them.

Another dietitian said,  "I don't think it is being given anywhere near enough attention," says Elizabeth Somer, a Seattle dietitian and author of "Food and Mood Cookbook." (2004; Henry Holt) "Many doctors don't even ask pregnant women what they are eating, much less people who come in with depression."

First, people are not eating enough of the right building blocks for neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that help nerve cells communicate. Second, they are eating too many refined sugars, which cause blood sugar to spike fast and high, then plunge below a healthy level.

For instance, low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter built from the amino acids found in vitamins B6, B12, folic acid and other nutrients, may result in insomnia, depression, increased sensitivity to pain and aggressive behavior.

Low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine - built up with the help of magnesium, B12 and folic acid - leave people feeling irritable and moody. Fatty acids Omega 3 (fish oil) and Omega 6 (certain vegetable oils) also have been shown in some clinical studies to be associated with mood stabilization.

Then there is the sugar roller-coaster.

Either way, I am seeing first hand what mood swings food intake can bring. Do you have any diabetics in your family? Are you suffering and living with diabetes? What tricks can you share to help with mood swings?

It's going to be a long day my friends... sheesh... and off on the roller coaster I go! ;-)


The Bipolar Diva said...

Now I wonder if that may be what's going on with my daughter. She's had three bouts of pancreatitis in the last two months. The doctor said that because of that she's afraid about her becoming diabetic. She's been up and down and her mood's been so unstable.

Janet said...

Hi -

I don't have diabetes, but my husband does, and I have lived with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) all my life. So, although I'm not a dietician, I feel like a "veteran" of living with blood sugar problems.

What works for me and my husband, even though we are at opposite ends of the blood sugar spectrum (although hypoglycemics often can morph into diabetics, and there is diabetes in my family - my grandmother) is to eat several small meals throughout the day - emphasis on small, or you will overload yourself and create havoc with your blood sugar - and the meals should consist of mainly protein, with a LITTLE bit of complex carbohydrate. A good example is cheese and whole-grain crackers.

I am the same as you regarding coffee - it elevates my mood - but then I feel the let-down a couple of hours later. Same with sugar, although as a hypglycemic, I have had to eliminate sugar from my diet completely, except for an occasional dessert on a holiday.

I used to be able to have an occasional glass of wine, but now my system doesn't seem to be able to handle this. (Same crash afterwards - even worse than coffee and sugar.)

So I would sum it up by saying that the diabetes regimen, like the hypoglycemic regimen, avoids sugar, alcohol, refined carbs (white flour products), and some would say coffee, if you're sensitive to it. My husband drinks a couple of cups a day and it hasn't seemed to worsen his diabetes, but it's up to the individual.

The diabetes diet used to be really restrictive (I have given you the "basics", and you probably know them already...) but there is something called the "glycemic index", which has come out within the past decade or so, and if you follow this list of foods, there are many more things a diabetic can have (in moderation) than before.

Sorry this is so long -


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