Jeremy Clarkson Diagnosis: An Extreme Case of Hanger
Why is anyone surprised about the Jeremy Clarkson steak incident?
As a nutritional therapist hearing of that fateful evening where a starving Clarkson asked for a steak, but was offered cold cuts and salad because the hotel chef had gone home, makes me believe he was primed for a tantrum. He was in my opinion suffering from low blood sugar levels triggered by several factors. We learnt from reports:
1) He had apparently been filming all day and was 'ravenous' when the crew arrived back at the hotel at 10pm, and had not eaten for several hours.
2) Before getting back to the hotel he had been in a local pub drinking rosé.
There are several golden rules to balancing blood sugar levels. Let me first explain what blood sugar levels are all about. In an ideal world, you would eat three balanced meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Blood sugar level is the term referring to how much sugar is in your bloodstream at one time. When we eat food, it is broken down into sugar in several stages of digestion. Foods which already contain a lot of sugar such as orange juice (yes even though it has natural fructose, it is still sugar) are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream.
Your blood is then highly-concentrated with sugar at this moment – ten teaspoons potentially from an orange juice. A hormone called insulin then carries the sugar off to be used as energy, or if you're not doing very much, sends it off to be made into fat cells to be laid down around your middle. Your bloodstream is suddenly very low on sugar.
The consequence is that you are likely to feel hungry, tired, perhaps a bit light- headed and craving more sugar, or a coffee which has a similar pattern. Some people get shaky, and some become angry, or even aggressive, when in a state of low blood sugar. Hello Jeremy Clarkson, on that fateful night.
This can all happen in half an hour after something sugary. By contrast, protein takes longer to digest and absorb than any other nutrient – even fat. Protein takes four to four and half hours to be broken down, converted into sugar molecules, which go into the bloodstream providing a steady supply of energy to the body and brain which means a steadier mood for many people.
The beauty of protein – whose highest sources include meat, fish, or eggs – is that it digests slowly, so avoids you running into cravings and mood swings.
Having a drip-drip provision of energy to the body and brain is important, especially for people who are prone to unstable blood sugar levels. For example if you live on a diet high in sugar, and white refined carbohydrates which speedily break down to sugar in the body (eg white bread, pasta, rice), caffeine (which also spikes blood sugar through the stress response triggering stored sugar from the liver into the bloodstream), or have diabetes running in the family.
This is why for some people fasting diets are bad news – them being “hangry" (hungry and angry ) isn't pleasant for those around them. Being aggressive and hungry in primal times, may have spurred us on to catch a wild animal for dinner, but isn't so useful in 21st century Yorkshire.
Another classic blood sugar spiker is alcohol – especially on an empty stomach, such as after several long hours of filming with no food.
So let's imagine Jeremy had gone for more than four and a half hours with no food while filming (so blood sugar was very low in sugar). He then went to the pub and poured half a bottle of rose into his bloodstream (massive spike in blood sugar levels), then half an hour later went back to the hotel (big dip in blood sugar levels). Oh oh…
If you have a busy day ahead of you, it's important to eat protein with each meal, have three balanced meals planned at regular intervals throughout the day, and avoid alcohol. You need to take control of this through meticulous planning and letting your needs be heard in advance before this becomes an emergency situation and you turn into a blood sugar flat-lining monster.
It really isn't worth getting into a fight with a colleague about, nor losing your job over.