Fitness

40 Days No Bread (Week Two): Mood Swings

March 4 2010 | CeCe Olisa

There’s a scripture, in Matthew I think, that talks about fasting being something that’s between you and God. It basically says that one shouldn’t walk around making a big deal about their sacrifice to everyone they see. “No food for me! I’m fasting… I would love to go to dinner with you but, I’m fasting!” Obviously Lent is a little different, because a lot of people are fasting during this season, but in the back of my mind I assumed that I would be able to do this No Bread thing semi-privately. What I’m learning is that even if the people I’m around don’t know what I’m doing, they sure are seeing the effects of it!

Like last week during girls night out when the tofu and eggplant with black bean sauce that I ordered for dinner was no match for the red wine that followed and I almost fell asleep at the table after one glass. Part of me wishes that my low alcohol tolerance was the only thing that gave my lack of carb intake away, but sadly its not.

For the past two weeks, I could be sitting at my desk and a fleeting thought would make my eyes well up with tears. Waking up in the morning I would sometimes feel like the world was crashing down around me. I keep double checking my calendar to see if Aunt Flow is due to visit because I have been an emotional wreck. It all came to a head last Thursday when some people from my office met up for karaoke night at our favorite bar. As most of you remember, Robert and I work for the same company, so he was there.

I had to work late, so I was one of the last people to arrive. I scanned the crowd for some of the girls that I’m cool with, but before I could get to them Robert jumped off of a bar stool and offered it to me. “Do you want a cosmopolitan?” he asked, I gave him a small nod. Although Robert and I are close, I do my best to keep that separate from our work life. He slid my drink over to me and I sat on the bar stool while Robert, his boss and another guy from their department stood around me. We spent the evening talking, laughing and getting up to sing and when Robert noticed my glass was empty he would order me another.

When he handed me my third cosmo, I knew I was in the danger zone. I put my hand on his arm, “I don’t need anymore after this,” I said. By that point I think it was already too late, I had this strong desire for Robert to just hug me and not let go. At the same time I hated myself for wanting that since I’m doing my best to move forward with Kevin. By the end of the night, although I continued to “have fun” with my coworkers, I was in an emotional abyss fueled by an abundance of alcohol. People started to leave and I saw Robert settling our tab. I knew it was melodramatic, but I quickly threw on my coat in an attempt to leave without him. I rushed outside and let the crisp air fill my lungs. Do. Not. Cry., I told myself. I took about five steps towards the train station when I felt Robert beside me. “You ready?” he said.

We rode the train in silence. Robert did his best to make conversation, but I (little miss social butterfly) was in no mood. He asked me questions: Are you okay? Why are you so quiet? Did I do something? I was in so deep I could barely see him through my emotions, “I’m fine. Just tipsy,” I replied with a forced smile. All the frustrations, hurt, anger, confusion and my feelings for him were overpowering me and I knew if I opened my mouth to say anything more, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. I knew he was getting frustrated but I was in self preservation mode. If you can make it home without breaking down… I thought to myself, You’ll be alright.

I didn’t make it home without breaking down, I got off the train and sobbed while I walked the five blocks from the train station to my apartment, but at least I made it away from Robert. When I woke up the next morning with a head ache from crying, I was concerned. I called my friend Maya, “I’m usually pretty in touch with my emotions,” I told her, “but last night was way over the top.”

“Well you’re dealing with a lot,” she replied. “not to mention you haven’t had any carbs in… how long?” Hearing her say that made me wonder if there was a connection between the lack of carbs and my wacky emotions. I typed “No Carb Mood Swings” into google and found that: Low-carb dieters are susceptible to mood swings, according to MIT researchers. The issue involves serotonin, the “feel good” brain chemical (found in breads/carbs) that elevates mood, suppresses appetite and acts as a natural tranquilizer… It’s not unusual for people who are changing their eating patterns or embarking on any kind of diet to experience episodes of irritability. However, according to Psychology Today, many who are trying testing low-carbohydrate regimens are reporting unusually high feelings of anger, tension and depression. Dr. Wurtman claims that that it’s a very well documented response-she calls it the “Atkins attitude”. –Geneva Health

“Anger”, “Tension” and “Depression” were most definitely in effect that night and the alcohol didn’t help. The Robert situation is what it is, but my emotional episode was terrifying. After seeing some of the comments from “BrooklynShoeBabe”, “The Thirty” and others on the PCOS entry last week, I’m pretty confident that I’m not going nuts (*fingers crossed*) but that my emotional roller coaster is due to to the lack of serotonin.

I’ve been eating more nuts, hummous, broccolii and cauliflower in an effort to give my meals a more hearty foundation and my emotions feel like they’re starting to stabilize. I just never would have predicted these intense mood swings would be a side effect.

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24 responses on “40 Days No Bread (Week Two): Mood Swings

  1. {Absolutely, Positively} Josie

    thank you for reminding me of that great verse. i think about it sometimes when i wonder if i'm talking too much about lenten fasting.
    i'm sorry you're going through moods, but i'm glad you found out it might be about the lack of carbs.
    you're strong! and i pray God continues to give you strength to get through lent.

  2. Anonymous

    Hey! Just wanted to say that I loooovvveee your blog…fabulous and fashionable in NEW YORK?! What's not to love?

    There's a great old book by Susie Orbach called "Fat is a Feminist Issue" that talks a lot about the psychological side of weight, not just the physical. I highly recommend it!

    As for your "no-bread" kick, I hope you're still eating OTHER carbs. Cutting off your carbohydrate intake can cause all kinds of health-related problems.

    Keep being awesome, keep writing, and keep having wonderful man-ventures.

    Thanks!

  3. Beazus

    Thank you for posting this, I really thought I was losing my mind. I've been making some changes to my diet as well and could not for the life of me figure out what was going on!

    I hope you're doing better and that you'll keep pushing on! I love the blog 🙂

  4. The Uneasy Writer

    It sounds to me like you're 'coming down' from the yeast.
    Most breads/grains that we eat are full of yeast and they can do a number on your body.

    God bless you for giving up bread. I used to give up chocolate for Lent but I was losing friends so I had to stop.

  5. flyingredt

    Oh my gosh! Thanks for sharing this. I recently embarked on a no bread/rice/pasta diet…all seemed well until this past week, I’ve been having mood swings like Aunt Flow is on the way but it’s middle of the month…ANYWAY fiance and I keep fighting like crazy, I wake up depressed and ready to cry in the mornings, I get irritated over everything he does…Usually I’m super patient….This makes so much sense. Going to google now how to get my seratonin levels to perk up. I can’t take this anymore. I feel like I’m going crazy!

  6. flyingredt

    Oh my gosh! Thanks for sharing this. I recently embarked on a no bread/rice/pasta diet…all seemed well until this past week, I’ve been having mood swings like Aunt Flow is on the way but it’s middle of the month…ANYWAY fiance and I keep fighting like crazy, I wake up depressed and ready to cry in the mornings, I get irritated over everything he does…Usually I’m super patient….This makes so much sense. Going to google now how to get my seratonin levels to perk up. I can’t take this anymore. I feel like I’m going crazy!

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