low-carb causing anxiety and depression (also posted in Traditional Foods) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-17-2012, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this or has some insight.  Several years ago I went grain and sugar-free.  I felt great.  But after my daughter was born, I developed some bad eating habits (like eating late at night every time DD would be up - basically I was eating b/c I was so tired from lack of sleep) and started eating grains again regularly and some sugar (but not much) - I was still eating healthy and following Nourishing Traditions but def. eating too much.  I put on a bunch of weight and last year I finally decided that it was time to go back to my grain and sugar free diet.  I started reading a lot about Paleo and Primal diets and decided to give it a try.  I opted for Primal (Mark Sisson) as it allows raw dairy and we've been consuming raw dairy for years and I didn't want to give it up.  I've been on an emotional rollercoaster since summer 2011.  Here is what happens:  I start eating low carb (no grains, no sugar or any other sweetener, no fruit, no starchy veggies, just meat, eggs, cheese, lots of fats and veggies).  To speed up weight loss, I would go almost zero carbs some days (no or almost no veggies).  Physically I felt great and even emotionally I'd feel great at first.  However, after a few weeks, I'd notice that I was starting to feel anxious.  Since carbs were always my go to comfort food, the anxiety would lead me to eating carbs again and I'd feel better in a few days (still no sugar, but eating starchy veggies and maybe some coconut flour baked goods with a little honey, a little bit of Ezekiel tortillas here and there).  I would then start gaining weight again and once I felt ok emotionally, I'd dive back into low-carb.  I have to say that when it was happening at first, I did not make a connection between diet and my emotions.  However, by fall, after maybe the 5th or 6th round of this, I started thinking that it was diet related.  It also seemed that each round it would take less time from going low-carb to feeling anxious.  Last month, I tried going low carb again, and this time it only took a few days to start feeling bad - severe anxiety with chest pains and racing heart, feelings of panic, etc.  This last round left me feeling severely anxious and even depressed (something I haven't dealt with in about 10 years). 
I started researching the diet/mood connection and read that you need carbs to convert amino acids to serotonin and other "feel good" brain chemicals.  I also read that women have about a third less serotonin than men.  And that people with lower serotonin levels (ex. people with a history of anxiety/depression) can deplete their serotonin stores pretty quickly through dieting and stress.  I even read somewhere that some people spiral into a full chemical depression when they go low carb.  So I think what happened is that each low carb round depleted more and more serotonin and the last round left me with nothing.  What I still don't understand is that I was eating low carb for a few years before without any of these problems. 
My research led me to reading about supplementing with amino acids to stabilize moods and I just bought "The Mood Cure" and have begun reading it.  I've started supplementing with 5HTP and Sam-e and had an almost immediate improvement in mood.  I'm still not 100%, but feeling much better.  I think it will probably take some time to rebalance my brain chemicals, but I feel hopeful that I can do it.  I haven't finished reading the book yet and haven't figured out my perfect supplement combo and dosages.  The book says that you can discontinue supplementing with aminos once you restore a proper level of brain chemicals and I plan on doing that.  However, I'm left wondering whether I'll ever be able to go low-carb again.  Not only is this the only way that I am able to lose weight, but I feel so much better physically when I go low carb.  I think that I can still go Paleo (no grains and no sugar) and not experience the emotional problems, but I don't think I can go very low carb (aka Atkins) to lose weight (not even for a short time).  I'd certainly much rather be overweight than have to deal with anxiety and depression.  However, I'd like to also get more physically healthy by losing weight.  I should add that I also exercise regularly - I follow Mark Sisson's guidelines - lift heavy things, sprint every few days, avoid chronic cardio - and I love it!  
I've decide to post my story in case others have experienced the same problems.  I'd also love to hear from anyone with similar issues and anyone who can provide any advice and guidance.


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#2 of 6 Old 01-17-2012, 11:41 AM
 
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Thank you for this insighful post! I don't have any advice or guidance but wanted to say that I experienced similar things when I went low/no carb no sugar. I was basically following a Candida diet (no sugars, carbs whatsoever) to help cure my gut/digestive issues and though people had reported feeling great after the inital "die-off" period, I felt more and more awful. Not total depression, but foggy, tired and sad all the time. I started to lose weight, but it got to a point where I didn't want to lose anymore. I started adding starchy/carby veggies back in (sweet potatoes, squash, carrots etc.) and started to feel better gradually after a few weeks. Now I eat a more paleo type diet with carbs/sugar through veggies and fruits and I feel much more stable and happier overall.


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#3 of 6 Old 01-17-2012, 11:42 AM
 
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Thank you for this insighful post! I don't have any advice or guidance but wanted to say that I experienced similar things when I went low/no carb no sugar. I was basically following a Candida diet (no sugars, carbs whatsoever) to help cure my gut/digestive issues and though people had reported feeling great after the inital "die-off" period, I felt more and more awful. Not total depression, but foggy, tired and sad all the time. I started to lose weight, but it got to a point where I didn't want to lose anymore. I started adding starchy/carby veggies back in (sweet potatoes, squash, carrots etc.) and started to feel better gradually after a few weeks. Now I eat a more paleo type diet with carbs/sugar through veggies and fruits and I feel much more stable and happier overall.


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#4 of 6 Old 01-19-2012, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Momo123!  I saw your post on Traditional Foods too. 


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#5 of 6 Old 01-19-2012, 02:24 PM
 
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I have never had depression or other  things go on but I have a nursing 18month old and find that low carb causes its own problems for me....I find I really crave carbs BADLY after a week or so of not eating them...I have found that a higher carb diet of sweet potatos, occassional rice and lots and lots of fresh veg and fruit has me feeling a ton better without cravings. Or when I was trying to be really low carb I would do a carb "refeed" which was a few days of low/no carb and then a day or two of higher carbs. Don't know if you have read the marks daily apple forums (mark sisson, primal blueprint) but there is some very intresting posts there.

 I read a blog post somewhere from someone talking about primal/paleo differences with men/women and how the women might have been the "gatherers" therefore snacking on much more carbs daily and often then the men so women have a higher "need" for the carbs to help make milk/babies/menstrate etc. It makes a lot of sense to me that diet needs are different. I definetly feel better with between 75-150g carb a day and way more fat then protein....I don't tend to really want or crave protein besides eggs and really fatty meat. so that says something to me.

Primal to me also means not only following this "outline" someone has put out for me but learning to feed my body what it needs to function at its best and to listen to my body and give it what it craves....there are a reason for cravings, it means our body is lacking something or needing something right NOW for some unknown reason.

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#6 of 6 Old 01-21-2012, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by chattyprincess View Post

I have never had depression or other  things go on but I have a nursing 18month old and find that low carb causes its own problems for me....I find I really crave carbs BADLY after a week or so of not eating them...I have found that a higher carb diet of sweet potatos, occassional rice and lots and lots of fresh veg and fruit has me feeling a ton better without cravings. Or when I was trying to be really low carb I would do a carb "refeed" which was a few days of low/no carb and then a day or two of higher carbs. Don't know if you have read the marks daily apple forums (mark sisson, primal blueprint) but there is some very intresting posts there.

 I read a blog post somewhere from someone talking about primal/paleo differences with men/women and how the women might have been the "gatherers" therefore snacking on much more carbs daily and often then the men so women have a higher "need" for the carbs to help make milk/babies/menstrate etc. It makes a lot of sense to me that diet needs are different. I definetly feel better with between 75-150g carb a day and way more fat then protein....I don't tend to really want or crave protein besides eggs and really fatty meat. so that says something to me.

Primal to me also means not only following this "outline" someone has put out for me but learning to feed my body what it needs to function at its best and to listen to my body and give it what it craves....there are a reason for cravings, it means our body is lacking something or needing something right NOW for some unknown reason.


I think I need to find a balance where my diet will make me feel well physically and emotionally. Physically I'm better with low carb, but emotionally I need more carbs (but no grains or sugar). So I'm working on that now. I have a hard time with moderation and usually go to extremes. I did that when I was veg/vegan and now again with paleo/primal. 

 

Ive been reading marks daily apple for a long time now and have two of his books. I think his way of eating/exercise is great. I just got too obsessed with intermittent fasting (followed a few IF blogs) and very low to zero carb diet. I don't think Mark advocates going that low unless you have lots of weight to lose andweight loss was def my motivation for very low carb and IF. 

 

 


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