10. Food helps too.

10.1: Self-control is easier when people are calm and well fed.

A work environment that promotes healthy habits in general, and provides breaks and availability of healthy snacks, may be another way to help reduce the risk of sexual harassment or harassment of people with other differences from taking place in the work environment.   

10.2: "HALT" and regain self control over emotions or addictions.

In some of the 12 Step groups that were created based on the Alcoholics Anonymous group there is a slogan to help remind people to prevent relapse called "HALT." It is an acronym that stands for "Don’t get to Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired." (10.1) Those are emotional states that can leave us more vulnerable to relapse or to making mistakes due to physical or mental fatigue and slow reflexes or poor impulse control.   

  • “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” - Robert Frost (10.2

Learning to listen to our own body’s messages “without losing your temper or your self-confidence” may be a sign of maturity, being well-educated in one-self. Learn your own body signals. Labeling a feeling can help to recognize it again and may help reduce the intensity if it is a strong emotional feeling. “HALT,” (10.1), just what does hunger, anger, loneliness or tiredness feel like to you?

  • Hunger - dry mouth and a gnawing ache in the stomach? light-headed and dizzy? 
  • Angry - clenched jaw and fists? furrowed forehead and narrowed eyes? 
  • Lonely – sad and bored? feeling hurt and unwanted? 
  • Tired – eyelids growing heavy and drifting shut? head & limbs growing heavy too? 

You can learn more about your own body signals and feelings through mindfulness activities or meditation. Read more: Control your emotions by meditating, (10.3)  


The slogan HALT reminds us to stop before reacting to an emotional state and acting out in some way. We are more vulnerable to physical accidents or to having emotional or behavioral lapses in our self-control when our bodies and brains are so hungry that low blood sugar is occurring, or when we are emotionally over excited or exhausted and too tired to think straight. Too-tired-to-think-straight was probably too long so mental fatigue won. 

10.3: Mental fatigue can make it more difficult to think or be friendly.

Mental fatigue, whether due to low blood sugar or due to  a different cause, has been found to make it more difficult to concentrate and it may make irritability more likely to occur. Problem solving and thinking clearly can be more difficult and accidents may be more likely:

 

“Mentally fatigued individuals suffer from 

  • (a) a lowered ability to concentrate, think clearly, and solve problems; 
  • (b) heightened irritability and a disinclination to be helpful or even civil; 
  • (c) an inability to get along in the world; and 
  • (d) a tendency to be accident-prone (Herzog, 1997). (10.4)

The accidental spill or heated argument that always seems to occur while preparing a meal when already hungry and tired makes more sense now. Meal planning, also sensible.  

10.4: Meal Planning can help prevent irritability and mental fatigue.

 Meal planning may even help prevent harassment and reduce the likelihood of accidents by making food and non-alcoholic beverages  beverages available for free or for purchase before staff or customers have time to become hungry or dehydrated . 

     Having a healthy variety of foods available, including protein and fiber rich snacks, rather than only having sugary and caffeinated foods and drinks available, would help promote more stable blood sugar for employees or customers. Stable blood sugar levels help prevent mental fatigue and promote a stable mood and the ability to concentrate.   

   Mental fatigue is also referred to as “central fatigue” in an article reviewing research that is available on the topic of fatigue in patients with diabetes. (10.5)  

  • Central fatigue can cause reduced ability to concentrate (mental fatigue) or to initiate activities. Central fatigue is unlike peripheral fatigue in that muscle weakness is not associated with the cognitive based fatigue of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Fluctuation in blood sugar levels was found to be more related to psychological fatigue than hyperglycemia, consistently elevated blood sugar levels    
  • Peripheral fatigue involves fatigue of skeletal muscle  which is controlled by the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS).  Peripheral fatigue may be due to low blood sugar or lack of oxygen, or to changes in the muscle fiber resulting from aging or physical inactivity.  

Both types of fatigue are common for patients with diabetes. However physical illness or unstable blood sugar alone may not be the only cause; levels of stress and burnout have also been associated with increased fatigue. (10.5)  An increase in levels of serotonin has also been noted with central fatigue that was induced by strenuous exercise rather than mental work. Experimental treatment with a supplement of branched chain amino acids, which are involved in the production of serotonin, was found somewhat helpful. The potential mechanism for why serotonin levels are increased and its association with fatigue have yet to be learned. (10.6)

10.5: Meal planning may even help prevent seizures & sudden death.

Meal planning may also help maintain a good mood at social events or business meetings by having a variety of foods and non-alcoholic beverages available along with alcoholic beverages. Serving alcohol without serving adequate food along with the alcohol can increase risk of violence for heavy drinkers if they become dehydrated and magnesium deficient.  

     An acute drop in magnesium levels can cause severe irritability or anger or even rage. Traditional bar snacks like popcorn or peanuts would provide magnesium, and also sodium from the salt, both of which are electrolytes that are lost with the increased urination caused by alcohol consumption. (10.7, 10.8)

     A shift in brain magnesium from inside of the cell where it is protective to the outside area around the cells or within the blood vessels is also part of the cause of increased loss of magnesium with excessive intake of alcohol. In a research study with animals the sudden loss of magnesium observed in brain cells was also associated with strokes and sudden death in the animals, with a larger risk associated with larger doses of alcohol. The authors suggest the same mechanism may be occurring when strokes and sudden death occur in people after an episode of binge or heavy drinking. (10.9)    

     Seek medical help as treatments are available for use during severe alcohol withdrawal that can help reduce the risk of seizures and sudden death. Magnesium can be helpful in short term treatment but may not be needed long term; when alcohol is no longer being consumed the short term shift of magnesium from the brain cell interior to the extracellular space stops, and the increased urinary excretion of the electrolyte returns to normal. (10.10) *See the Effective Care Resources page for more on the topic of alcohol and medications.

     Use of magnesium supplements during recovery from alcohol abuse was found somewhat helpful for reducing symptoms of depression. (10.11)  

     Magnesium and calcium are both electrically active and work together, magnesium causes relaxation of muscles while calcium causes contraction. A sudden increase in calcium and loss of magnesium can cause severe muscle cramps. (10.12

  • Severe hypermagnesemia is uncommon because of the kidneys’ ability to excrete a magnesium load, but magnesium homeostasis can be easily disordered toward deficiency in malnutrition, malabsorption, renal tubular damage, diuretic therapy, and chronic alcoholism, some of the main non-endocrine causes.” (10.12)  

    Excessive loss of electrolytes is part of the underlying problem causing the symptoms of dehydration, so when alcohol is being served it may help promote health and a peaceful atmosphere to also offer a meal or nutrient dense snacks such as the traditional bar snacks popcorn or peanuts, or tree nuts for the allergy prone, in order to prevent magnesium deficiency. 

    It is also important to have water available at social or business gatherings where alcohol is being served in order to help prevent dehydration and the risk of symptoms of disorientation, irritability or rage. 

10.6: Resources for more information about meal planning.

 Resources about meal planning for stable blood sugar:

  • The American Diabetes Association offers a free recipe and meal planning newsletter service for email subscribers: diabetes.org
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website has an article with more information on healthy foods for diabetes and a link to find a nutrition counselor near your location: eatright.org. A nutrition counselor can help individualize meal plans for calorie needs based on age, weight, gender, and level of activity, all of which can affect insulin levels and the amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat to include in the daily meals.
  • The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was originally developed by the US National Institutes of Health to help control hypertension and it has been found successful not only for patients with high blood pressure but also for weight loss. It has an additional food group with a weekly recommendation for "Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas" which would provide a good source of magnesium. An example of Daily and Weekly DASH Eating Plan Goals for a 2000-Calorie-a-day Diet is available here: nhlbi.nih.gov.
  • Information about the DASH Diet and cookbooks about it are reviewed here: dashdiet.org/What is the DASH Diet?.
  • The site also has a page with links to more websites with DASH-friendly recipes: dashdiet.org.


For the rest of the party planning needs, a “Company Holiday Party Planning Checklist” is available, with all the other details to consider in advance in addition to meal planning, so the special event is low stress and fun for everyone: bgeventsandcatering.com

Art - food for the eyes.

10.7: Food for the eyes, nature or art can reduce stress and anger.

Decorating with images of nature or having green spaces available for breaks may also help reduce stress levels in employees and customers. 

    During a task designed to be frustrating, stress and anger levels were reduced in males when there were nature or relaxing abstract art images in the experimental office setting. Females who had previously been found in  screening to be more prone to anger were less likely to become stressed and angered when nature images were present, and women in general had less stress and anger with nature images in the office setting, but the stress and anger levels of females as a group, on average, were less affected than males by the presence or absence of nature or relaxing abstract art images. (10.4

    A walk in a natural setting may be more beneficial to health than a walk in an urban setting (10.19, 10.20) but even looking at images of nature has been found to help reduce stress levels - more than taking a walk in a busy urban setting, (10.21) suggesting that while exercise has health benefits, exposure to nature also has health benefits.  

    Some types of stress can be stimulating and may help with meeting a challenge but stress that is negative and ongoing can be harmful to health. Our attitude about the stress, whether we view it as a stimulating challenge or as something we have no control over, can make a difference in whether the stress has positive or negative health effects. (10.22) More information about Art Therapy and resources are available in the Glossary section. 

      The topic of dopamine and art and other positive and negative activities was covered in the section Friendliness helps too.

     More information on gender differences and similarities will be continued in the next section, What is Gender Discrimination?.

 
Click the What is Gender Discrimination page to continue reading.


  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes. 
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert

Instinct & Policy; Resources

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Table of Contents

  • Chapters and Glossary section summaries & links, and a link for the book version of this site, Instinct & Policy: Effective Care and Best Practices for Promoting Health and Preventing Harassment and Discrimination. 

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10. Links & References

Links and Reference footnotes for

Chapter 10: Food helps too.  





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Glossary & Resources

  • Definitions of terms and the resources & therapy techniques from the various sections gathered in one location for convenience with some additional topics and material for background detail not covered elsewhere.