By a wide margin, one of the things that is certain to cause my anger and upset is not eating the correct meals throughout the day, missing a meal or having a meal much later than I had anticipated where I feel hungry and tired because of it. I need my three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and tea) or I begin to lose energy rapidly, I get very grumpy, moan a lot, get angry or feel intensely upset to the point of crying.
Being autistic, and not understanding the obvious, it was probably in my 20s that I realised that you get energy from food. Although I understood things like calories I just never saw the whole picture that food is energy. Through studying this subject I learnt to eat high protein (or high protein and high fibre together) in the morning such as eggs, eggs on toast, fish such as mackerel or beans on toast for a slow release of energy to keep me full until lunch. A balanced lunch which often includes a sandwich, nuts (for protein which keeps me full for longer) and fruit for a quick energy boost as the other food releases energy at a much slower but longer pace. Then a large meal in the evening which usually includes meat for protein.
I used to have snacks late in the evening but realised that I did not really need energy at this time of day so I no longer have any food after my main meal at night time. When I used to have a breakfast like Wheat-a-bix I used to feel very hungry at lunch time as even though the meal was high in slow release fibre it was low in protein that really does make you feel fuller for longer. So I have recently changed my breakfast to a high protein one and I usually easily feel full enough to last until my lunch. It really has made a big difference to my energy levels.
In between my lunch and evening meal I have started to have a snack such as a breakfast bar or protein bar which helps me to get through the afternoon.
I used to rely heavily on caffeine to get me through the day and with this I would have sugar in the milk and an extra sugar on top of that. On occasions I also used to have a can of full sugar coke to keep me going as well. Over the past year I no longer have any caffeine, have very little sugar and just stick to my three main meals and one snack a day. Very occasionally I will have a tiny energy boost by eating something out of the fridge when I get home such as a few grapes, an orange or having a tiny amount of milk or orange juice mixed with water.
If I know there is a chance I might be having a meal later than usual I will always prepare for this by having snacks available, just in case, such as flapjacks, breakfast bars and crisps (but I only eat about one packet a week now I have changed my diet). If there is a chance I may be out past lunch time, and do not take food with me, I will always plan in my mind what I could have and where I can buy it from. My go to food for this will either be a cold sausage roll, scotch egg or steak slice pasty as it is incredibly high energy and high protein, is cheap and can be eaten on the go.
If things go wrong, and they do sometimes, it will really upset me. Even if it is something small like missing a lunch or an evening meal it would be almost torture for me. These days I will always have a backup of going out to a place such as a chip shop, McDonalds, ordering in a pizza or Chinese meal if I cannot have an evening meal for any reason (but this is quite rare and would become too expensive if I had to do it often). So getting food right is vital for me. I spend a couple of hours a week planning meals and making sure that I know what I will be eating well in advance of the day I will be eating it. On days when I work I will always eat a large breakfast and have the same lunch (sandwiches, nuts and a banana) and the same type of snack. As with many things in my life I keep to a set routine. This is probably because I don’t like change, find making decisions difficult (so I don’t have to choose something different eat day) and I know this combination is right to get me through the day without triggering negative emotions.