Secondary effects of mood stability

Content warning: diet, food

I’ve spent most of my life mitigating what many people call being “hangry.” That is to say, whenever my blood sugar got too low, I would become incapacitated. I couldn’t solve challenges, I got mean in ways I simply am not the rest of the time, and I couldn’t track more than one thing (at most) at a time. I dealt with this by carrying snacks with me everywhere to prevent the onset, and I would get really quiet if I felt the symptoms setting in so I wouldn’t harm people around me. The more active I was being, the more often I would need to eat. To be someone who gets hangry (AKA “hypoglycemic”) is expensive, time consuming, injurious, and distracting. But it has been reality for all my life that I can remember.

There’s this human I’ve been dating for awhile named Reed. We like having conversations about difficult topics and going for long bicycle rides together, among other things. And I started to notice that he could know that he needed to eat, but still be a totally pleasant person and/or get the rest of a ride in before eating food. We talked about if that had always been the case for him – it hadn’t – and what had changed – his diet (keto).

“Seems worth a shot,” I thought to myself.

I’ve never been on a diet before. I’ve always been pretty physically active (although even more so in recent years) but haven’t paid attention to my food intake. I know I am rare in this, and give many thanks to my parents for a healthy home (no scale, no beauty magazines, healthy food only around, structure around sweets) in this regard. So I was worried about making it stick. I’m now 2 months in, and my mood has indeed stabilized.

This has been great. But there are also some second-order effects of this shift worth talking about.

I’ve felt more clear headed, capable of diving into difficult situations sooner than I have been in the past. The thing I used to have to wait for – my extremity of emotion to be lower than my ability & desire to empathize with the other party(/ies) is generally at a constant now. Rather than gearing up to navigate a situation by having to inhale calories, waiting for them to process through my system a bit, regaining my footing in reality, and then rolling my sleeves up to help; I now feel ready as the event is happening. Awesome, right?

Not so much.

It ends up that I’m still not actually ready to have difficult conversations immediately. Ends up that some emotional processing still needs to happen. Who knew that clear-headedness was not the only factor in being able to deal with a situation? This had been happening while I waited to process calories, and now I self-impose a timeline to respond instead. The answer was inside me the whole time.

I think I’ll keep this up – it’s been really good for me overall. The food is delicious, I eat just as much as I did before, but without the sweets and without carbs in general. It’s been possible to maintain with relative ease with such an enthusiastic partner who already figured out a lot of great recipes and habits. Reducing my drinking of alcohol to once every week or two has been a difficult transition, but I’m glad for that transition due to its difficulty, if that makes sense.

And thanks to the r/keto community, which has been hugely useful in figuring out most everything related to this shift in my life.