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Hello everyone!  Currently on day 15 of my first Whole30, and I have experienced something surprising. The first week instead of having the carb flu I had bouts of sadness. Like weeping, world will end, dark thoughts, etc. Through reading around, I have found that for some eating too few carbs can have a negative impact on seratonin (mood lifting hormone).  This is something to watch out for if you are prone towards depression (which I do not have) to begin with.   After eating a potato each morning it got better. Two days ago I didn't have a morning potato because I ran out of time to make it, and it took until the evening but the blues were back.  Since my father passed away from depression, there is definitely a seratonin deficiency issue in my family background.  I did not think that doing a Whole30 would give me insight into this area of need for self care and am surprised to learn I may need to watch it more than I thought. In general, I can be given to low moods and have had a span of dark days within the last two years, but nothing diagnosed, etc.   

I am writing this post to see if anyone has had a similar experience. Also, if you are having that experience, I'd say don't be afraid to have carbs or even a daily Larabar (oooh--vilify!!!) to keep your hormones in check. For me, this process has been chiefly about the elimination/ reintroduction experience to determine what works for my nutrition. As long as I can keep the carbs at a decent level, I am willing to continue past 30 days for additional healing and weight loss. 

As we know, dealing with this sort of disorder is not a 'mind over matter' issue--our mind is, in fact, made of matter and can be damaged!  Moderators, can you pass along this issue to the Hartwigs in hopes of some more info?  Perhaps in a new edition seratonin issues can be discussed in the 'special populations' portion of the book?  Despite the bouts of sadness, clearer skin, less bloat and a flatter belly are some positives I have had so far, and I'm glad my poor moods at the beginning didn't derail me from the process. 

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This is exactly why we recommend at least a fist sized serving of starchy veg, daily - you'll see that the Moderators mention this repeatedly across the forum. The nuts in Larabars will contain some level of tryptophan, which is required by the body to produce seratonin, but the high levels of natural sugars from the dates will deplete seratonin stores if eaten regularly so using them as a mood boost would most likely be counter productive.

Good to hear you're feeling better.

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Mhmm very true. i was feeling really tired and "meh" today, and I realised I haven't had any particularly starch veg. Sweet potato wedges with turkey burgers and 2 fried eggs and now I'm laughing at disney songs :)

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Thank you for this post.  I really needed to hear it.  I also lost my father to depression, and have been finding myself incredibly weepy/depressed during my Whole 30.  I didn't realize starchy carbs had anything to do with it.  What else should I be adding to my diet besides potatoes/sweet potatoes?  I have been having a really bad bout of depression today.  I've hardly eaten anything, and can't seem to get myself off the couch.  Lots of crying too.  It's day 14, and I feel like I can't do this much longer. 

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43 minutes ago, 30days said:

Thank you for this post.  I really needed to hear it.  I also lost my father to depression, and have been finding myself incredibly weepy/depressed during my Whole 30.  I didn't realize starchy carbs had anything to do with it.  What else should I be adding to my diet besides potatoes/sweet potatoes?  I have been having a really bad bout of depression today.  I've hardly eaten anything, and can't seem to get myself off the couch.  Lots of crying too.  It's day 14, and I feel like I can't do this much longer. 

I am so happy this helped you!  I was sure that I was not the only person who has had this happen, and regardless of what is said the material is not particularly clear, up front or urgent about the fact that this can occur.  I tried to make this post very direct because it seems you have to comb through a lot of uncertainty to get an answer.  I did find an article from 2011 on the website which addresses it (Whole30 depression) if you want to look it up--can't get the link right now. Go ahead and use some white potatoes since you're so low--roast 'em up and have a big serving.  Make sure you have some potatoes each day in some way. I was hoping to thrive in a lower carb situation, but this process is about learning more about your body, so overall it is good to know we may have to support our seratonin production a little more than those without the same family health history. Again--moderators--can this be revisited or highlighted in some way every once in awhile so people aren't blindsided by it?  Not just say 'we recommend a fist sized portion of starchy veggies,'' and add ''or more if you are prone to seratonin/depression issues.''  Because it's not an optional thing for those who are looking at 30 days of sadness. 

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True, the moderators frequently reinforce the need to eat starchy veggies.  For this particular issue, though, it would be good to have it as common knowledge that those dealing with this issue may need more and it's not really an option. 

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We can alert Melissa to this suggestion, however we don't give specific medical advice and it would be irresponsible of her to officially say anything that might lead people to not speak to their doctor about depression.  Starchy carbs cannot cure depression.  Clinical, chemical depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can sometimes be helped by eating starchy carbs, but it is not a cure, where sometimes, upping the consumption of starchy carbs can alleviate 'the blues' or a mild level of sadness.  It's possible that Melissa could do a blog post about the relationship of starchy carbs to low levels of sadness or the blues.  I will send a note right now.

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Well, just a little update, but I made roasted potatoes and chicken for supper, and I am feeling a little better.  Not 100%, but at least I'm back to functioning now.  Snuggles from my little one helped too.   I'm really thankful for your post today, and I will be adding in more starchy veg to my diet.

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1 hour ago, SugarcubeOD said:

We can alert Melissa to this suggestion, however we don't give specific medical advice and it would be irresponsible of her to officially say anything that might lead people to not speak to their doctor about depression.  Starchy carbs cannot cure depression.  Clinical, chemical depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can sometimes be helped by eating starchy carbs, but it is not a cure, where sometimes, upping the consumption of starchy carbs can alleviate 'the blues' or a mild level of sadness.  It's possible that Melissa could do a blog post about the relationship of starchy carbs to low levels of sadness or the blues.  I will send a note right now.

Thanks!  I understand the boundaries they have regarding medical advice and the potential concern that those with depression (and the symptoms that go with it) may not seek treatment. It could be presented as the advice for diabetics, pregnant/nursing moms etc. was presented. Maybe more information is needed.  I only know the tiny bit I've learned over the last two weeks!  In general this has inspired me to continue learning about the effect of food on one's total health which I think is the Whole30 working its magic!  

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If you check out whole9life.com - which was kind of the 'Mother' of Whole30 there are a number of blog posts about food (along with exercise & sleep) and it's link to mood. You should also note the importance of omega 3 fatty acids - particularly when eaten along side starches.

Here are a few to get you started....

http://whole9life.com/2014/11/food-linked-mood/

http://whole9life.com/2016/05/kelly-brogan-depression/

http://whole9life.com/2014/11/food-mood-fodmaps/

Originally these posts/resources would have been available directly via this forum, but the two platforms were separated a while back.

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