Deciding to go carb-free
After an indulgent holiday season and a ton of international traveling, I knew it was time to detox my overfed body. In order to erase some damage caused by hearty comfort food and daily charcuterie boards, I decided to live entirely without refined carbs—that is, all sugars and starches that don’t exist on their own in nature. So all forms of breads, pastas, chips, fries, etc., were completely off limits, but natural carbs like those found in fruits and lima beans were OK. Cutting these refined carbohydrates not only helped reset my digestion, but also fulfilled my lifelong dream of being able to say “Sorry, I don’t do carbs.” I can proudly announce that I have nearly reached one month sans carbohydrates, but the effects haven’t been entirely rosy (in fact, they’ve been far from it). Here are the good and bad side effects I’ve experienced since starting this strict diet. Follow these nine steps to a low-carb diet.
After just one day without carbs, I began to develop a relentless, pounding headache. The pain was not simply irritating—it was practically crippling. While I was extremely surprised by this sudden onset of headaches (as I said, it had only been one day!), it turns out that this dietary side effect is completely normal. Carbohydrates can be so addicting that restricting them cold-turkey (as I did) causes withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced when cutting off booze, caffeine, or drugs. Carbs had become my vice and addiction, and I was beginning to feel the consequences of getting so seriously dependent on them. Got a headache? Try these natural remedies.
I feel so badly for anyone that interacted with me on my first week without carbs! I was unnecessarily irritable and took “hangry” to never-before-seen levels. However, these mood swings aren’t uncommon when cutting carbs. According to Judith Wurtman, director of the Women’s Health Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studies show “a connection between a diet low in carbohydrates and low levels of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of happiness and satisfaction.” Wurtman’s research demonstrates that a no-carb diet “leads to pronounced feelings of depression and sadness, even rage.” I can attest I felt all of these draining emotions quite acutely.