Do You Know How The Foods You Eat Are Influencing Your Moods?

The following is an article I wrote several years ago about my daughter Heather and our first experiences with food chemistry.  It has appeared in several magazines and is the primary focus of the “Corey the Wacky Apple” website.  It should explain the potential food has to induce certain moods and hopefully, it will help change your thinking about what the foods you are eating could be doing to your body. 

The Food / Mood Connection

“You are what you eat.” No truer words said, but how many of us live by it? Don’t we continuously stuff ourselves full of worthless fodder filled with chemicals and harmful ingredients, deciding that we can survive just fine? But ask yourself this: If a miniscule pill called Prozac popped in your mouth can alter your mood and keep you from jumping off a roof, then what is the probability of the many components in your daily diet, possibly making you feel like jumping in the first place?

In 1999 I answered a phone call from my daughter’s grammar school. “Ms. Martini, we are having trouble with Heather. It seems she is acting a bit aggressive with the other children.” “Well what is she doing?” I asked while considering what ‘aggressive meant to an assistant principal. She blurted out, “Ms. Martini, your daughter is biting children.” “Oh”, I managed to whisper, completely dumbfounded. “Well I guess that’s not such a good thing, is it.” “No it’s not”, she retorted, and began to suggest causes and the possibility of therapy. “I understand your position and will look into it”, I promised and ended my conversation in complete dismay. I knew it was tough being the product of a divorce and having a working mom, but biting? This seemed so unlike her. There must be a reason.

Mood

After gleaning what I could from my sobbing child (“I didn’t mean it Mom, I swear. It just happened!”), I decided to go the psychiatric route and started investigating child therapists in the area. I also made an immediate appointment with her physician for blood work. At the time, I had been researching issues with my own health and was learning about the correlation of hormones, food and mood swings. I thought my daughter could benefit from my own experiences, so I booked her an appointment with Terence Dulin, Dc., ND., a naturopath, practicing biochemical nutrition in Farmingdale, Long Island. He had just put me on a strict diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and a colorful array of amino acid supplements, discerning from my blood chemistry what foods were going to help or hurt my body, physically, emotionally and mentally. I was only on the diet a short time, but felt better, more alert and even keeled (not to mention thinner!) so I thought the visit would benefit Heather and possibly shed some light on why she was acting out.

We entered “Doc” Dulin’s sparse quarters open-minded and eager. He took the faxed copy of the blood work supplied by her pediatrician, glanced at the numbers and began to hmmm and ha. “Well, well! I see we have a little aspartic girl here!” “Excuse me?” I said moving forward in my seat for fear that I didn’t hear him right. “What is she?” “Aspartic Girl!” he hissed with a wild look in his eye. I was envisioning my daughter in a miniature superman suit with a big “A” on the front. “Well can you explain that?” “Suuurrre!” He bellowed. “You see aspartic acid is an amino acid neurotransmitter. It is responsible for male-type aggressive behavior and helps in the release of testosterone. Her levels of aspartic acid are very high. Let me ask you Donna, is she a bit aggressive?” I was dumfounded. How did he know? “Yes, as a matter of fact” I continued, “we’re here because she’s biting kids in school!” “Well”, he said, that’s understandable. Too much aspartic acid in little girls isn’t a good thing! Let me ask you another question; is she eating a lot of chicken?” Again I was stunned. “Yes!  She eats chicken every day! She loves chicken. She has chicken nuggets for lunch, chicken breast for dinner, chicken legs sometimes for breakfast. What do I do?” “So we know the problem,” he said shrugging. “Cut the chicken down to twice a week and follow the rest of the diet. Let me know how she does.”

So we did what the nutritionist ordered and Heather completely stopped getting in trouble in school, not to mention lessening some damage done to her self esteem. Having chicken to partially blame for the situation helped her to feel better about the aggressive moods. At times, she felt physically out of control and I understood her reaction. For years I had been positively manipulating myself, constantly putting anger, fear and anxiety in check. For an adult, this is a tremendous feat, but for a child, it has to be near impossible. By alleviating the physical precursor for her aggression, Heather was able to deal with the emotional. Without getting off the chicken, she would be continuously fighting an almost losing battle with what is not within her control to control.

Chicken NuggetsIn my own life, diet has played a major role in managing moods, but also learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADD. When sugar is added to a diet, neural connections are hindered and in a system that is already at a disadvantage, this could mean the difference between me being able to work that day or just race around like the proverbial headless chicken. When my diet is clean of sugar, wheat, dairy and other simple carbs, I can function optimally and I don’t feel like my brain is a radio under water. And that is not all. When I ate those foods, I would get other physical symptoms, such as leg swelling, sinus congestion, stomachaches, itchy rashes, breakouts and even arthritic pains. That was my body’s way of telling me ‘STOP’! If your body is reacting negatively to foods, it means you are abusing it and the more you abuse your system, the more it needs to fight, taking away precious time and energy it should be using to work and function normally. Eventually, your body’s histamines stop the constant warfare and then the annoying symptoms become more serious ailments and finally, disease.

Dulin’s sensible approach has helped many children and adults (with the aid and supervision of their physicians) get off drugs, including Ritalin, Prozac and cholesterol medication simply by recognizing what chemistry your body needs or can’t handle. And the knowledge spreads. Recently a client called me after I suggested he stop eating wheat. He had been taking Claritin daily for almost a year and was distraught over his never-ending sinus condition. “Donna, I haven’t eaten a single bagel, piece of bread or pasta for three weeks, but guess what? I haven’t taken a single pill either! This diet changed my life!”

Of course, there are many reasons for reoccurring symptoms, but doctors are not trained to understand the effects of food on the body. They only know how to cure what is considered disease. But what if your body is healthy, just fighting too hard? You will have symptoms but no permanent malfunctions. They won’t be recognized through normal diagnosis and testing processes. What do you do then? You are on your own, but there is hope. Consider that food is a combination of chemicals and enzymes that convert into energy and waste in your body. It makes sense then that we would not be able to eat certain combinations without negative effects. We can help ourselves by listening to our bodies’ symptoms and eliminating what is causing these physiological and psychological “signs”.

When it comes to Positive Manipulation, every aspect of your life, especially the physical, needs to be examined. If what goes ‘in’ is detrimental, imagine how difficult it will be to digest it and have it come ‘out’ positive! By eliminating what your body doesn’t need or want, you could be doing more than just losing weight and reoccurring symptoms. You will be putting your body and psyche at an enormous advantage, helping instead of hindering your life tasks. So from now on, don’t look at that bagel as being so innocent. Instead, eat what you need to produce a positive response, and you could be setting yourself up for the most prolific physical experience of your life!

Special Note: There are many books on this subject available to you. If you are interested in finding out what food intolerances you have, try an elimination diet. The most highly rated allergens are wheat and dairy, so they are a good place to start. I have no affiliation with Terrence Dulin, but his information is as follows: 100 Conklin Street in FarmingdaleNY, 516 293-4276. Amino Acids and Vitamins supplied by Purity Firstspeak to Rose @ 631-293-6525.