Cat Battles of the Himalayans
Many of my patients have become enamored with my two new family members, Jai and Kharma. I would like to think that this brother and sister have a lot going on behind the slightly crossed blue eyes typical of all Himalayans (hence the names). Which means that when they begin stalking the hallway at 4:30 AM, like all cats I assume, they are expecting breakfast and not on my schedule, but on their own.
Now you are all thinking, "Yes, my cat does that too!", and leave it at that. But there have been a couple of times recently when I noticed something else. Fighting. Not just playing, but really snapping at each other and taking swipes at one another. Now I should start by saying that I have fairly methodical mornings where I want to accomplish everything upstairs before I head downstairs. Some mornings this would extend later than usual because I had to get the laundry done, or I had some cleaning to do, or I simply became enthralled with a book and wanted to finish before I started the day.
And then I began to notice that these cat battles would coincide with my later mornings. The cats would practically knock each other down flying into the kitchen on these mornings, and once they had their food, they would be right back to normal. So I began experimenting (no animals were harmed during this clinical trial). I would delay going down in a random pattern. I also began noticing that I would come home in the evening and even though I don't evening feed my cats (they do have dry food available throughout the day), there would be evenings where Jai would sit and cry next to his bowl. So I would feel sorry for them, as one does, and put down food. But to be fair, I'd give food to Kharma as well. The next morning there would be no stalking in the hallway, no fighting and when I would come down, Kharma's bowl would be untouched while Jai's was practically finished.
So the result of the kitty experiment is blood sugar. Blood sugar dysregulation is insidious and invisible. We never attribute any symptoms similar to Jai and Kharma to blood sugar. But I've noticed the same thing in my mother. When a meal is delayed, she starts to become actually angry, irritated and upset. As soon as she eats, she calms down.
I truly believe that many of our emotional and mental ups and downs are based on blood sugar. It isn't just about weight management or staving off diabetes, but it's about feeding the body often enough to maintain your metabolism. When you go longer without eating, the liver has to convert stored sugars (glycogen) into glucose to raise the sugar availability in the blood. The body can also use essential fatty acids for energy through a similar conversion process. But if your liver conversion is insufficient, or you don't have available essential fatty acids, then keeping your blood sugar stable is important.
It's worth spending some time evaluating just how long can you go without food before you become not just dizzy or headachey, but actually irritated or foggy. This is also an important piece of my treatment of children and adults with ADD and ADHD. Without regular meals, snacks and sufficient healthy fats, sugar and blood sugar balance can go right off the rails.
Maybe resolving hunger might even reduce violence ...