(This blog was originally posted on February 18, 2016)
|Photo by Rick Hustead|
You probably laughed when you saw the Marsha Snickers Ad on television during the 2015 Super Bowl. I sure did—and not just because it was a brilliant spoof of how the oldest, “perfect” Brady Bunch daughter/sister might have had a melt-down because she got too hungry. The sketch is perfect in its 1970s retro feel, with the ever-patient Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) placating her cranky daughter with the following suggestion: “Marsha, eat a Snickers.”
“Why?” Cranky Marsha (Danny Trejo) demands.
“Because you get a little hostile when you’re hungry,” Mrs. Brady explains. After just one bite, Cranky Marsh transforms back into Cute Marsha (Maureen McCormick).
“Better?” Mrs. Brady asks with a knowing smile.
“Better!” Cute Marsha says with a grin.
Did this ad hit home for anyone else? Do you ever feel cranky or get overly frustrated when you are hungry? If so, you are not alone. Hunger—which is the most obvious “symptom” of low blood sugar—can also be accompanied by a variety of other physiological and psychological responses. As I explained in my blog titled What Do You Eat?, nutrition plays a huge role in how we perceive and respond to events in our environment.
Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D. observed that low blood-sugar levels can exacerbate or even cause a person’s presenting problem (behavior or belief). For example, a sudden drop in blood sugar can trigger physical symptoms such as shaking, light-headedness and feeling tired, or even psychological symptoms such as depression, paranoia, irritability and memory problems. Furthermore, Dr. Kappas found an association between a person’s low blood-sugar levels and fluctuating suggestibility with the onset of a phobic response. This (irritability) reaction is illustrated in the advertisement when Cranky Marsha threatens to strike her sister with an axe for punching her in the nose. The script implies that with the candy in her system because she is no longer hungry, Marsha will calm down to the point of being coolly dismissive of her sister; or, at least she would no longer want to attack poor Jan with an axe.
I have to hand it to the creators of this ad: they were very clever to associate increased/decreased emotional volatility with hunger and tie the amelioration of this reaction with eating their product. There is certainly no doubt that eating something when we are hungry makes us feel better and more like our normal selves. However, if the food source is high in sugar and other carbohydrate sources as a candy bar no doubt is, this relief will be short-lived. Once the initial sugar boost wears off, we will likely in the same situation.
Consequently, when I work with my hypnotherapy clients, regardless of their therapeutic goal, one of the first things I explain is the role of good nutrition and how what they eat can affect how they behave and think. For example, while the peanuts in a Snickers® bar are a good source of protein, the sugar and many other ingredients that make this item so tasty undermine the healthy “benefit” the manufacturers might promote. Conversely, that handful of peanuts would be a great snack on their own because these legumes are a good source of protein that will help to assuage hunger and reduce moodiness and anxiety.
For more information about how nutrition affects mood and behavior, and other practical techniques to help reduce anxiety, I invite you to read my blogs titled The Origins of Fears and Phobias and Irritability.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.