I feel guilty writing that: “getting through the holidays.” I’ve done an excellent job this year of scheduling events that will force my brain to appreciate the magic of the holiday season: I actually participated in a cookie swap even though sugar makes me suicidal; I made time last week to attend a friend’s holiday concert and to celebrate afterwards; and I even went to the Nutcracker ballet with my daughter last weekend. However, now that the kids are home for two weeks, and snowball cookies (you know, the balls covered in powered sugar) are lying around, I know I’m in the danger zone. The 14-days ahead of me are critical mental health days where I must reach for any and all discipline that lies inside me. Here is my plan:
1. Avoid sugar and white flour.
To avoid sugar and white flour during the holidays sounds, I know, like avoiding snow in January. But I don’t need to read the research about how unbalanced blood sugar levels affect your mood, or how simple carbs use up mood enhancing B vitamins, or how sugar consumption triggers chronic inflammation, or how sugar suppresses activity of a key growth hormone in the brain called BDNF. I don’t need to read the abstract by British psychiatric researcher Malcolm Peet, who conducted a provocative cross-cultural analysis of the relationship between diet and mental illness and found that there was a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk of both depression and schizophrenia. I don’t need to read the studies because I know that every time I put something made with d sugar or white flour in my mouth, I want to die. I experience death thoughts. I can’t afford to fight those during Christmas, so I’m staying away from the cookie tray and the pies.