Breaking Up with Carbs? There's LIFE after the Divorce!

Certificate of Divorce

Eliminating most carbohydrates from your diet isn't as easy as it looks. In fact, for most people, the sense of “loss” that cutting carbs brings can be quite shocking to the nervous system.

Yes, you get to eat many of the foods that are outlawed on low-calorie diets; but for many, eating:
  • meat
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • salads
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • berries
  • and healthy fats
is not enough of a trade off to avoid feeling deprived and victimized. Especially, if others in your immediate environment are eating some of your favorite foods in front of you.

Being sad, angry, and resentful is quite common within the low-carb community. More common than people like to admit.

If that's you:

Go ahead and give yourself permission to feel that way. It's honestly okay. Giving up carbohydrates is like giving up a huge chunk of your identity. Carbs played a large role in your past lifestyle. It's who you were for a very long time.

While some dieters transition into a ketogenic lifestyle without a hiccup, others feel a huge sadness that can quickly turn into depression if you're not aware of what's going on within you.

This is how it was for me.

As long as Atkins was a choice I made, I felt overjoyed and was able to handle the feelings of deprivation and sadness at never being able to eat many of my favorite foods ever again.

However, when the choice turned into a must do low carb to keep my blood sugar normal, that's when I slipped into a huge depression that I'm just now beginning to shed.

Staring down at the reading of my blood glucose meter last year hit me pretty hard that day. I didn't expect to see my blood glucose that high.

It was very humbling.

If it wasn't for my involvement in the low-carb community for all of these years, I'd probably be labeled a diabetic by now.

Knowing that doesn't make the break up with carbohydrates any easier.

There is a huge sense of loss that comes when you can't go back to living how you were before.

That person no longer exists.

The realization that low carb is for life, that you can never eat whatever you want to, whenever you want to, ever again, is similar to losing a loved one.

Partly, because my relationship with food was distorted.

I use food to self-medicate, to deal with stress, and to make me feel good. I enjoy the lift that eating carbohydrates brings. I am not all that fond of low-carb foods.

It's humbling to face the fact that my relationship with carbohydrates is ending. I will always have to restrict them to some degree. And that restriction always means permanent change.

However, the loss of carbohydrates doesn't mean that contentment and peace with what you're currently doing is beyond your reach. You can gain acceptance and find peace with your new low-carb lifestyle.

The pity party doesn't last forever.

Going low carb can bring healing to your life. It can bring fewer diabetic complications. And it can change your life for the better.

But before low carb can do that, you have to give yourself permission to grieve.

Cutting up a Marriage Certificate

Don't Bury Your Feelings

Don't bury your feelings. Let your feelings rise to the surface of your conscious mind.
  • See them.
  • Experience them.
  • But don't shove them away.
Shoving never works. They'll just surface somewhere else, and can even make the situation worse. Much worse.

See a low carb lifestyle for what it is:

A drastic 360-degree lifestyle change

Accept the fact that you might not ever get over your feelings of deprivation and loss.

Yes, low carb will help you to rebuild your life.

It will help you to find a different level of contentment, a peacefulness for what's going on within your mind and emotions.

Just know that:

You will never be the same person ever again. The person who ate tons of carbs no longer exists. You've moved on to a healthier way of living, a healthier way of dealing with life's challenges.

Here are 5 Emotional States from Giving Up Carbs

There are 5 emotional states that can surface when you decide to let go of the carbs. These states are:
  1. denial
  2. self-pity and apathy
  3. guilt and self-condemnation
  4. anger and resentment
  5. self acceptance and peace
These are 5 typical emotional reactions from having to eliminate carbohydrates from your life. You may, or may not, go through all of these emotions. You might go through one or two of them, or even none at all.

Lots of people LOVE low-carb eating.

They never look back.

Others find themselves only missing their old life occasionally, depending on what's happening in their environment. This is because grieving is not a set path. There isn't an order to finding peace without carbs.

These are emotional states that you can move into and out of during the healing process, which means you won't just see them once. You can move throughout the 5 off-and-on until you get your act together.

Even if adopting a low-carb lifestyle was easy for you, you are not off the hook. These states can still manifest later on.

At least, that's how it was for me.

In the beginning, I was thrilled with the low-carb lifestyle. I felt that low carb was the only way to go for me. Dr. Atkins promised me that I could win the battle with my weight.

When that didn't work out the way the books said, and losing weight got more difficult, my attitude toward low carb changed drastically. I went into denial, self-pity, resentment, and felt guilty for blogging about low carb because I wanted to walk away from low carb altogether.

But I'm still here and want to share with you that going rouge only feels good for a little while.

You get to stuff yourself with carbs, but eventually, what you're doing catches up with you. You start to pack on the pounds, or you don't feel as well as you did on low carb, and you begin to question yourself – what you're doing and your decision to walk away.

So keep in mind that the following emotional states are just possibilities. They are a way to help you understand what's going on and can help you accept the new you. They will also help you decide what to do next.

Emotional State #1: Denial About Carbohydrates

This is the place you land when you believe that giving up carbs is only a temporary situation.

You're in denial that carbs can have an adverse effect on your body, mind, and emotions. You look forward to maintenance when you can go back to eating some of your favorite carby foods again.

You see low carb as a way to take the weight off fast. You don't see it as your new way of life. For you, low carb is just a diet among the hundreds of other dietary solutions you can pick from.

Others are in denial over carbohydrate being the source of their health challenges. You want low carb to pay off from day one or you'll just go somewhere else.

Denial tells you that you need a diet that will allow you to continue to eat how you were eating before, but produce the weight loss that you crave. You really don't want to pay the price for thinness. You want to be able to eat your cake and be skinny, too.

Denial can be a bit dangerous because as long as you're in denial about carbohydrates, you'll most likely fall prey to quite a bit of cheating. You don't want to believe that carbohydrates are harming you.

You want to believe that you're one of those lucky people who can choose whichever weight-loss diet you want to use.

You're in denial about how insulin resistant you are.

You see nothing wrong with splurging on a piece of pizza when you go out, having a donut at work during break, or eating buttered popcorn at the movies with the kids.

It's only a cheat or two, you say.

You don't want to think about what excessive carbohydrates are doing to your body. You'd rather believe that you have everything under control. Flexibility is the norm.

Denial also grants you the ability to blame the diet when it doesn't work as well as you thought it would.

The only way out of denial is to face reality head-on.

You are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic, diabetic, or have metabolic syndrome – which must be treated with a low-carb diet.

This doesn't mean you have to carve those carbohydrates down to bare-bones because the definition of a low-carb diet is 120 carbs, or less; but it does mean you'll have to restrict them to some degree.

Now and forever.

Low-carb diets do not cure your metabolic issues. They just help you get those issues under control.

Emotional State #2: Self-Pity and Apathy

Self-pity is when you feel sorry for yourself.

But not just that. You also want everyone else to feel sorry for you, too. While you might believe that self-pity is a fairly silent place to be, it's not. Most people in this state are very vocal about how they feel.

There is complaining, voicing your frustrations, or blaming society for what's happening to you. It's the manufacturer's fault that you're overweight. Not yours.

Grief for the foods you've left behind is so great that it is weighing you down. You feel heavy and tired.

Go too deep into apathy and you'll pull back from family and friends. You'll move through life in a daze and often feel that life isn't fair. Complaining and crying about the unfairness is quite common in those who have allowed self-pity to take control.

You can actually get stuck here quite easily because you won't feel like doing anything.

You understand that the situation isn't going to change, no matter what you do. You'll never be able to eat carbohydrates like you did before, so what's the use in being happy about a low-carb diet?

Self-pity and apathy is a pretty stagnant place to be.

It's at the bottom of the range of emotional reactions that you can have to going low carb. You can't get any lower without going into a coma.

You do not have to stay here, however. You can choose to see your situation from a different perspective. You can choose how you want to feel. You can choose to be different.

Emotional State #3: Guilt and Self-Condemnation

When you enter into the state of guilt, you begin to evaluate what's happening to you. Sometimes, you can see the benefit of what's going on, and sometimes, you can't. Either way, it's super easy to fall into the “what if” game:
  • What if I go on Atkins Induction and don't lose any weight?
  • What if I stall part way to my weight-loss goal?
  • What if low carb doesn't ever work for me?
The feeling is one of having wasted time and effort in trying to slim down, so you're teetering on the edge of both self-pity and guilt. They are kind of mixed up in there together.

Instead of blaming the diet, you start off blaming your self. You'll wonder if you should have done things differently. If you'd not been so addicted to carbohydrates, you wouldn't be in the mess you're in right now.

Guilt comes from your inner critic, and that part of yourself can be quite unforgiving. It will keep you living in the past, feeling guilty about the past, a past that no longer exists for you.

It's over and done with.

You can't relive those moments or decisions, so what you did yesterday or five years ago doesn't matter. There is nothing you can do about it, other than to apologize to yourself for being so hard on yourself.

Being overweight doesn't mean you're a glutton.

Instead of judging yourself to be unworthy, try looking for things in life that you are grateful for. Gratitude is a great foundation from which to rebuilt your new low-carb life. It helps you heal and allows you to live joyously – today.

Don't wait for tomorrow. Live today.

Emotional State #4: Anger and Resentment

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you are going to one day ask yourself, “why me?”

Rejecting your anger and trying to stuff your feelings about low carb won't help much. This is because you have to truly feel your anger at having to go low carb before it begins to dissolve.

Anger generally comes from feeling hurt, mistreated, or not in control of what's going on. You feel victimized. And helpless.

What you think about yourself, others, and your environment determines just how quickly those angry feelings will move on.

If anger stays, you'll begin to resent your low-carb diet, and life will be pretty miserable. Discovering that you have to give up carbs can be painful. You might also feel disappointed and hurt, especially if you're the only one in the family that is low carb.

Anger is an emotion that can turn into blame very quickly.

The drive to understand why this is happening to you is the need to make the pain and suffering go away. You want to feel normal again. You want to eat like everyone else in the world can eat. And you need something to blame the misery on.

Blame helps you to make sense of what's happening, but it also blocks your ability to take 100% responsibility for what's going on.

When you're angry, you have no control over the situation. You are at the mercy of your anger and your reactions. You feel mistreated, like things should be different than they are.

You feel vulnerable.

However, anger is not bad. It's not something that you need to consciously control. It's just a way of handling the shock from having something important yanked away from you.

What you find important in life can be changed. You just need to prioritize your values. Reacting with anger can become a bad habit, so you'll need to adopt a new vision, a new goal for how things should be.

Change your perspective, and the anger won't surface nearly as often.

Emotional State #5: Self-Acceptance and Peace

Acceptance isn't tolerance. You're not just putting up with a painful situation. Nor are you trying to recreate the life you had before.

Self-acceptance is rising up to the challenge that is before you right now. It's seeing weight loss as your latest project, rather than a problem that needs solving.

Self-acceptance is the point where you realize that you really are in charge of your feelings, your choices, and your life.


It's also the place where you're ready to figure out how to live in a carb saturated world by being responsible for yourself. Be in the world without being a slave to carbohydrates. Be in the world, but not controlled by society.

Peace is about accepting what's going on. It's adapting and adjusting your path to something that will enable you to reach your goals. It's kicking out the interests that are no longer viable for you today and finding new interests to take their place.

Make peace with your past.

What's done is done. You don't need to go back there. Just make peace with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are not evil. They are not poison. They are not the bad guy. They have their place in your diet. It's just that the degree of carbohydrate indulgence is off track.

No one gets fat from eating chocolate cake on their birthday.

You get fat from overeating carbohydrates every day.

Living Low Carb

You can't replace what metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance took from you, but you can educate yourself on low-carb living. You can try new foods that you've never eaten before, take up a new hobby, put in a vegetable garden, or spend more time outdoors with family and friends.

While some things you had before will now be off-limits for you, there is so much in life that you can still enjoy – even without the carbs.

Breaking up with carbs won't ruin your life.

Only a few things will change. Most of the enjoyable things in life will still be available to you, so go out and make those things happen. Live low carb like it was meant to be lived!


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