Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Artificial Sweeteners Make Me Angry

I've been fighting this conclusion for ages. It seems so New Age-y, and I'm not. I'm skeptical about these assertions that you can pin behavior directly on something like preservatives or sugar or Red Dye #348,985,875.

(On the other hand, I'm a huge believer in the idea that diet can *influence* behavior. My skepticism is based on the "get rid of this one specific preservative, and your ADHD child will be the calmest kid on the block" argument. I just don't buy it.)

Which is why, as I said, I've been fighting this conclusion for ages. But I can't fight it any more. Artificial sweeteners in general--and NutraSweet in particular--make me angry. I drink a diet soda, I yell at my kids. It's almost a one-to-one correlation. I don't know how it works, exactly, but I know I'm not alone...There's plenty out there in the Google world on anger and irritability (as well as depression and mood swings) and their link to sucralose and its pals.

Why am I suddenly so sure? I've been avoiding diet drinks of late, on purpose...a difficult thing to do in my house, since Baroy is a Diet Coke (and Diet Canada Dry and Diet Anything With Bubbles) addict, and my fridge is STUFFED full of the stuff. But I've done that before, testing the "is this stuff making me mean?" waters. The difference is, I've been in a really unusually calm mood of late. I mean, I'm totally stressed at work--I've got a new title, new position, new tasks to learn--but that's stress, not anger, and it's been really focused on work. I've been truly (and unusually) calm at home, dealing with the kids with an evenness that I often aspire to but rarely achieve, and bantering happily with Baroy without any unnecessary snarkiness. (I won't swear to the absence necessary snarkiness, of course...but that's a different ballgame entirely.)

And then, not even thinking about it, I grabbed a diet ginger ale at dinnertime. Within an hour, I was snapping at N for...well, for walking past me. (In my defense: He kept knocking into me as he came and went from the living room, and twice nearly knocked my laptop onto the floor. But still. He was walking past me. There were ways to deal with it that didn't have to involve a voice raised in anger.) And then I went to put him to bed, and found myself yelling at him for not paying complete and proper attention when I read to him, and then yelling into Em's room because she hadn't turned off her light the VERY SECOND I told her to, and then stomping out of N's room because he was wriggling around and making me insane. By wriggling. A little.

I stomped into the living room, huffing and puffing like I was the World's Most Put-Upon Mother, what with having to deal with all that wriggling! and all that not turning off the light! and all that, um, EXISTING. Sheesh. What about ME? What about MY NEEDS? And I plopped down on the couch next to Baroy, rolling my eyes at him when he asked me whether they'd gone down all right...because how DARE he? Now I was the World's Most Put-Upon Wife, what with having to deal with all these questions! and the expectation of answers! Sheesh.

To return to my story: I stomped. I huffed and puffed. And I grabbed my...can......of.......OHHHHHHHH. You're kidding me. Really? That direct a link? Shit.

So, um, yeah. That not believing? I'm going to have to rethink that and get back to you on it. But I can pretty much guarantee I won't be drinking a Diet Coke while I do that.


Ambre said...

Well, sugar makes me kind of freaky, so I can imagine some other thing might make you a little weird ;)

Not hearing about the new job makes me a sad panda :(

AB said...

Can't use Equal, Nutrasweet - memory loss and lots of stress.

Sweet 'n Low does not seem to bother me nor does Splenda.

PnP said...

Well, I have been sort of perhaps slightly contemplating the possibility of maybe cutting down on the diet coke too, will let you know if I notice any difference and....I am with Ambre, sort of sad that I didnt know anything about the new job, sniff....

Green said...

Congrats on your new position. FWIW, I grew up with the Feingold Diet, and fully believe in that shit. I don't care why there's a correlation; I just care that I avoid causing myself to behave and function in ways I don't like.

po said...

My old boss was at a conference once, sat down next to a guy drinking a Diet Coke, and said, "That stuff will kill you." Turns out the guy was one of the top researchers who churned out aspertame.

About the job that has made your friends such sad pandas, is it a job outside your house, in like an office with other humans and such?

Leslie Lim said...

First time I commented in a blog! I really enjoy it. You have an awesome post. Please do more articles like this. I'm gonna come back surely. God bless.


rachel said...

YES! I have been toying with this hypothesis myself. I'm an ex-Diet Coke addict, but I "treat" myself every once in a while. Never fails that the day ends with a bad attitude from me.