From the Blog

This Just In: I Am A Nutjob

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I love everything about the word nutjob. I slip in into conversation as often as I can. It covers so many bases with such minimal effort. Politicians, coworkers, hormonal women, crabby kitties. All covered. It’s a word that so easily fits in the side of your mouth, “Get a load of that nutjob.” It feels like I’m 70, with smoker’s rasp, and sandals with my socks pulled up to my thighs, talking about that neighbor down the street, you know, with that hair, the nose rings and the chickens, and, what a nutjob.

Lately I’m having issues with a most beloved food item: cereal. I didn’t realize how much cereal I purchase until I looked in the cabinet and the boxes of cereal were precariously stacked on top of each other, beyond reach, and inaccessible without a foot stool. Because if I want one of the bottom ones, the boxes on top would tumble out and those edges are pointy. And Raisin Bran is heavy as a brick. A brick of bran. The whole thing is not well planned, and is just a hospital trip waiting to happen.

Beyond having a “danger cabinet” full of cereal boxes, I have come to realize that if I do have cereal for breakfast, I have to be ready with a “second breakfast” within two hours. In the past month or so, I’ve had a number of “food meltdowns.” This is where, usually after a carbohydrate breakfast (cereal), I full-on, completely, totally, lose my shit once the blood sugar runs out. I get shaky hungry, I get weak, I can’t think beyond just eating something. Anything. Now. Sometimes I get cold sweats and I completely lose the ability to articulate beyond “Must get food.”

I imagine this is what it feels like to be insane. Food insane. A nutjob. And it happens out of nowhere. Literally within seconds. I go from casually thinking, “I’m kind of hungry,” to absolute meltdown stage. Just in the course of a minute conversation. I can only imagine what it is like to witness. “Oh yeah, it’s good to see you, let me shoot you an email and, oh my god, lean closer, I am going to eat your head.”

It never used to happened so frequently, but I always knew there was always potential for it to occur if I didn’t have something more substantial than sugar for breakfast. Now it seems to be occurring with regular frequency, and it’s a little alarming.

This morning, instead of just having regular cereal and milk, I though it would be more substantial to have granola, low fat vanilla yogurt and banana. I thought I was being healthy. But the yogurt was waaaay too sweet and I had to wonder, again, why I get the idea that yogurt is somehow virtuous. I never choose to eat yogurt. I just tolerate it. I eat it because somewhere I heard it was healthy or something.

Not much later, probably two hours or so, I got a pang of hunger and I was a little baffled. I had just eaten a “more substantial” breakfast than usual. Despite the hunger pangs, I had an hour to go before lunch and I thought I’d be fine until then. I do this all the time. I like to take late lunches so that I only have a few more hours until it’s time to go home. I’ve never understood early lunch people. Nutjobs.

I was getting hungry, but I thought I’d be fine. But no. That slight hunger quickly, instantaneously, turned into a total food meltdown. I had to rush off a phone conversation because I couldn’t even hear what the guy was saying. I was thankful to be at work and sitting, because it came on so quickly, and it was so intense, and so uncontrollable that I could envision faintness, falling on the floor, and paramedics. At work. Great.

Gah. I’m usually quite in control of my faculties. And it’s alarming that this seems to be happening more than it used to. I don’t want to feel hungry and be alarmed that a meltdown is imminent. I don’t want to lose my mind every time I get peckish. I’ve looked up hypoglycemia, and it’s a perfect description. The shakiness, the sweats, the mental fogginess, and it occurs to people who are not diabetic. And it occurs more often with women. And I bet it occurs a hell of a lot to women who eat cereal for breakfast. But why just sometimes and not other times? Sometimes I have cereal or carbs for breakfast and I’m just fine until lunch.

I love cereal! Damnit! Do you know how hard it is to find products that DON’T have added sugar? I spent 15 minutes in the bread aisle at the supermarket, (the supermarket being the bane of my existence see here, here and here), 15 minutes looking at the ingredients of sandwich bread. I couldn’t find one, not even ONE, without some kind of added sugar, high fructose corn syrup or “brown sugar” or “honey.” I don’t need to get all fancy pants with the sugary bread. I just want something to make a sandwich with. Spaghetti sauce, vanilla yogurt, toothpaste all have sugar in them. Okay, my editorial staff says toothpaste contains saccharin, not sugar. Same thing, I said. Fricken toothpaste.

I’ll do whatever I can to cut back on the simple sugars, however much I love cereal and cookies and white chocolate mochas from Peet’s. And now I also think I have to be one of those people that carries around a food bag, just so I can be a functioning member of society. And not a nutjob.


  1. Wow – that sounds exactly like reactive hypoglycemia. I have it and it has gotten worse as I have gotten older and my Dr. finally convinced me that it is dangerous (if you blood sugar drops too low – you die). I recommend 2 things. The first is to always have a quick fix at hand. after having a couple of really scary incidents, I ALWAYS have sugar pills glucose tablets) with me. But OJ is an excellent fix and seems even faster than the sugar pills, but it is temporary. Another quick fix is ketchup (the packets are handy). However, more sugar just causes the same problems again, so you need o follow it up quickly with protein. The 2nd thing is to not eat breakfast for breakfast. If I do eat breakfast for breakfast, I’ll have a bowl of nature’s Path Optimum Blueberry Cinnamon cereal with soy milk. But, the best thing is to have a normal lunch or dinner type meal for breakfast. It is hard though, to get the proper balance of nutrition to get you through to the next meal, so I just accept that I need to eat snacks (my Dr. recommended several small meals per day instead of 3 larger ones). An excellent snack is something like a Fantastic Foods split pea soup cup or peanut butter.

    Low blood sugar will definitely make you a nutjob. I have also had a problem in recent years where I do not necessarily feel like my blood sugar is low, but will just feel really bad overall – like I am coming down with something. Then, I happen to eat a meal and suddenly I feel better.

    I understand that hypoglycemia – especially reactive can be a precursor to diabetes, so take care of yourself and keep an eye on it. I do a little self check every month or so. I just ask myself if I have had a low blood sugar episode recently and so far the answer is always “yes”, so I know diabetes has not set in yet.

  2. Not to ignore the serious medical condition, but wack-a-do has become my favorite alias for nutjob (credit for my new vocab: our studio manager).

    And more seriously, I found a generic cereal that didn’t have added sugar…think it was Ralph’s… had to search for it. Certainly hard to find. Even those so-called healthy Kashi or fancy whole grain cereals seemed to have tons of sugar. Makes it so hard to pick good foods when the names are deceptive!

  3. I’ve found that eating something truly whole-grain (i.e. not “whole-grain cereal”, since that’s mostly pre-masticated) for breakfast really helps me. I’ve been cranky since I moved because I haven’t gotten back into the habit of it again, but I like brown rice with a tiny bit of honey or syrup, and sometimes some nuts if I have them around. It takes a while for your body to break down the carbs, it keeps me full for forever, and I don’t get the sugar high off of it. Much unlike the huge “apple crumb” muffin I just ate voraciously (curse you, coworkers, for bringing in junk food!!). I can already tell I’ll be starving by 9:30 and will be double-plus cranky.

  4. Thanks gals. Less sugar dovetails with less cholesterol (which I’m already doing fairly well at) and dropping a few pounds, because !yay! my sister is getting married next year and I don’t want to look like a cow standing next to her.

    Jen, I may commandeer wack-a-do. That’s a nice one.

  5. There’s a reason for the last 6 years my breakfast has been oatmeal every morning– I used to be a processed cereal eater and experienced the crashbangboom every day.

    I like my oatmeal chewy, so I just mix up the oats from the bins at Freddie’s or New Seasons with the hot water tap on the water cooler. I add a teaspoon of sugar and a handful of raisins. Om nom nom.

  6. Mary Sue, I thought oatmeal would be better, but “someone told me” that oatmeal is carbs too. But probably more complex? Longer to digest?

    I just need to manage my breakfasts better. I need a breakfast manager. I wonder what Help Wanted category that would go under. “Nutritionist Needed for Nutjob.”

  7. Everything is carbs, but there are good carbs and bad carbs. Bad carbs are “empty carbs.” M&M’s and cookies – bad. :o( Brown rice, whole grain – good! :o) You should have a balance of lean protein, lots of veggies for the nutrients and some good carbs with everything you put in your mouth. ;o) Even snacks, to keep your body running and have energy until your next meal, when you have to fill up again. But keep in mind, not too much, portion control is important too. Says Bob from Biggest Loser!! All true though!! And no cow, you wack-a-do nutjob. I used to like “hot mess” the first time I heard it, now it’s overused.

  8. This is not just a gal thing. I have had/have the same problem (probably hereditary). I mentioned to a doctor once that I get shakey a couple of hours after having cereal in the morning and he said stop having cereal. If you can’t wean your self off the cocoa puffs my solution… put some bacon and eggs on it. That will hold you for a while!

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