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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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On 4/15/2017 at 8:46 AM, jmcbn said:

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.

Could you explain why dates would make you *more* depressed? I’ve been having a couple of dates for carbs on days that I don’t have time to cook a starchy veg. I thought they would have the same effect as a starchy vegt 

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16 minutes ago, aplentifulharvest said:

Could you explain why dates would make you *more* depressed? I’ve been having a couple of dates for carbs on days that I don’t have time to cook a starchy veg. I thought they would have the same effect as a starchy vegt 

Something as sugar heavy in as small a package of dates is not going to have the same effect on the body as a fist sized serving of a starchy carb which is full of fibre, other nutrients and then also natural sugars.  There are 75g of carbs (sugar) in 100g of dates and 27g of carbs in 100g of yams... that makes dates almost entirely sugar with no fibre so no, they definitely aren't going to have the same effect as a starchy veg.  

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It’s day 16 for me and I’ve been very depressed! It’s not something I’ve dealt with before but my Mum does so she recognized the symptoms. It’s making life incredibly difficult- I can’t believe what my Mum is going through I had no idea it was like this! I get trapped in bed it’s a strange thing I want to get up but can’t? I’m eating ungodly amounts of potatoes so I know I’m getting enough starch! I never ate potatoes before and now I think they are my favorite food! 

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11 hours ago, Pronto said:

It’s day 16 for me and I’ve been very depressed! It’s not something I’ve dealt with before but my Mum does so she recognized the symptoms. It’s making life incredibly difficult- I can’t believe what my Mum is going through I had no idea it was like this! I get trapped in bed it’s a strange thing I want to get up but can’t? I’m eating ungodly amounts of potatoes so I know I’m getting enough starch! I never ate potatoes before and now I think they are my favorite food! 

I'm sorry you're having a rough time. Food can certainly play a part in depression, but there are other factors too. First, it is definitely worth talking to your doctor, whether you want to try medication or not -- some vitamin deficiencies can contribute to depression, and if you're taking any other medications, especially if you started any recently, you'd want to double check that this isn't a side effect of them. 

I know the feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, but it is really helpful to get up, get out in the sunshine if that's possible, and get some kind of exercise. Even just a walk or some fairly light stretching can help, just move a little bit.

Food-wise, it's good to get enough starch, but be sure you're also eating other vegetables as well. Try to get some oily fish like salmon, mackerel, or trout  a few times a week, or look into a high quality omega-3/fish oil supplement. 

Be sure you're getting enough sleep, and if you're under any extra stress lately, figure out ways to help minimize that, or ways to destress when you can.

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I'm on day 22 and I (still) feel depressed, anxious and irritable.  I gained weight (after two weeks of resisting I finally weighed myself to confirm what I suspected), my skin may look worse, I'm tired all the time and I got a canker sore, which used to be a chronic problem for me that I thought I had eradicated.

Is it possible whole30 just isn't for me?  I want it to work so badly.  If I just got one thing out of it like better skin, more energy or weight loss I'd be happy.  Right now I don't even like being in my own skin.  Help!  Someone tell me things turned around for them...

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3 minutes ago, Clotheshorse10028 said:

I'm on day 22 and I (still) feel depressed, anxious and irritable.  I gained weight (after two weeks of resisting I finally weighed myself to confirm what I suspected), my skin may look worse, I'm tired all the time and I got a canker sore, which used to be a chronic problem for me that I thought I had eradicated.

Is it possible whole30 just isn't for me?  I want it to work so badly.  If I just got one thing out of it like better skin, more energy or weight loss I'd be happy.  Right now I don't even like being in my own skin.  Help!  Someone tell me things turned around for them...

Yes, it's possible this isn't for you -- no one way of eating is right for everyone. 

If you want to finish this up and see if there's anything you could change in your meals to see if it makes a difference in these last eight days, list a day or two of your typical meals, including approximate portion sizes and specific vegetables.

If you are not already, be sure you're eating at least one fist-sized serving of starchy vegetable each day, like potato, sweet potato, carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, plantain, or winter squashes like butternut or acorn squash. Also be sure you're salting your food, and that your meals match the meal template. You can download the template here: https://whole30.com/pdf-downloads/

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Thanks again Shannon, you're very kind to take the time.

 

Breakfast:

Three eggs

Cruciferous crunch (brussel sprout and kale mix from trader Joe's)

Sun dried tomatoes

Olives

1/2 avocado

Blueberries

 

Lunch: 

Compliant coconut wrap

1 slice Turkey

1 slice Roast beef

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Bowl of mashed sweet potatoes about .75 cup

Salad with olive tapenade and sun dried tomatoes

 

Dinner 

1-2 roasted chicken thighs

Roasted brussel sprouts

Roasted carrots

1 bosc pear

1 T Olive oil

 

After each meal I have a compliant hot almond milk with tea.

 

If I really don't think I can make it to the next meal I'll have some macadamia nuts.  

There have been 3-4 times I found myself eating sun butter and all-fruit jam out of the jar.  Yikes!

 

During the first three weeks I was really good about not eating fruit at the end of the meal.  Today I've been like "forget this!" And indulged in some dried fruit.  

 

Has anyone ever made it to day 22 with no progress but it turned around?  If anything I would say my overall health has regressed.  I WANT to see some progress though.  I want to tell people how great it is!

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Honestly, your meals look pretty on point. Your lunch might be light on protein if those slices of meat are the thin deli slices -- it takes a lot of those to add up to an amount the size of the palm of your hand. (Also, there's not such thing as a compliant coconut wrap, though I doubt that's affecting your depression. If you're interested, there's discussion of these kind of wraps here: https://whole30.com/2013/12/pure-wraps/).  

Almond milk after every meal could maybe affect skin issues -- some people seem to be affected in this way by nuts and stuff made from them.  

I am really not sure what to tell you. There's nothing that really stands out as a reason for you to be feeling this way.

I'm sure you know that depression and anxiety are not something to ignore -- be sure you check in with your doctor if this continues, and if it's getting worse, definitely do whatever you need to do to fix that, even if it means stopping Whole30 early. 

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