How do I stop being so "testy" while I'm dieting?
January 9, 2012 8:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to keep my New Year's resolution by losing some weight. I find myself very snippy to my husband and friends, which is completely out of character for me. How can I lose this weight and still be civil to the people I love without being known as "The Grouch?"
posted by sybarite09 to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you eating enough? Are you eating enough carbs and healthy fats? I'm guessing the diet itself is the problem.
posted by liketitanic at 8:31 AM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

I agree with liketitanic. You need to make sure you're eating enough to keep your blood sugars up. Maybe make more numerous but smaller meals to make sure of that. Also, be sure to factor in to your diet some treats/favourites. Depriving yourself of EVERYTHING that you love is only going to make you feel grumpy and starved and you'll feel like your diet is a huge price to pay and is a huge sacrifice.
posted by gwenlister at 8:33 AM on January 9, 2012

In addition to eating enough, make sure to eat often--have a small 200 calorie snack in between each meal to keep you blood sugar stable.
posted by litnerd at 8:33 AM on January 9, 2012

I've lost over 20 lbs in the last few months by cutting my carbs to under 30 grams a day and being diligent about the gym, and if anything, my mood improved. If you're trying to white-knuckle it by cutting calories alone, I think you might want to re-think your eating plan. Are you getting enough exercise so you can sleep well? When I don't sleep, I'm cranky as hell.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:33 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some additional information might help. Are you doing a VLC program (very low calorie)? Have you reduced your carb intake to below 30 per day? Do you have more than 50 pounds to lose?

Here are some tips from early in my VLC diet:
. Eat small meals every three hours to keep your insulin levels as flat as possible
. If you get headachey and grouchy, try drinking some mineral water, or powerade zero to restore your electrolytes
. Try to keep a healthy sleep schedule. If you have insomnia, try to go to bed at 10p.m. and get up at 6 a.m. every day, even if you don't sleep.
. Even a small amount of physical activity will make a big difference in your mood.
. Work with your physician. Your vitamin D levels might be low (which can lead to horrible mood problems), or you might be stressing your kidneys and liver.
. Be careful and don't get too judge-y with yourself. Dieting can be a form of self-punishment and that can make the best of us cranky as hell.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2012

Losing fat is hard and often not very much fun, especially before you start to see results. But it can be even harder if you just say "I will eat less and lose weight." You need a Plan. A Plan is worth more than the drive and determination and willpower of a Navy SEAL when it comes to fat loss. You will not succeed without a Plan, and you will be mad and confused and a grouch without one. Would you mind letting us know specifically what your goals are, and specifically how you are currently trying to achieve them?

As liketitanic said, the diet may be the problem. I disagree with his or her advice that you should eat more carbs and healthy fats, as bread dipped in olive oil will not do you any damn good.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:50 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

What kind of diet are you on? Are you cutting carbs completely or something? Are you exercising?
posted by anniecat at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2012

All of these answers are speculative (useless) without knowing what you ate before, and what you changed your diet to.
You DO NOT need to keep blood sugar (+insulin) UPor DOWN. You want it as stable as possible.
Sugar, Most carbs, high glycemic index foods will DESTABILIZE those levels.
posted by StUdIoGeEk at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2012

I am in the same boat myself, needing to lose about 15# that's crept on since a back injury and getting married has made me a bit lazy and sedentary.

To hopefully kick start some metabolic burn, I am now going thru a sugar/processed carb "detox" and I've done this before, so I know what I'm in for. The first week is PURE HELL, after which it greatly improves. The only way out is through. I have not cut caffeine simply because I can't take that much withdrawal at any one time.

I concur with the others - make sure you're not going too restrictive on caloric intake, because super low calorie diets, ESPECIALLY if you don't maintain enough "good fats" and protein intake, really do not work. They may strip off 5-10lb of water weight rapidly, but the net result is generally to trigger metabolic "reset" after which it becomes harder to continue to lose, and easier to regain. Make sure you are eating SMALL snacks (one handful of nuts, a couple peanut butter celery sticks, etc.) every 2-3 hours to keep your blood sugar steady.

Not that you asked about exercise, but if done properly it can help. Back in October I started running 3X/week in addition to my normal cycling volume, however as I sort of expected the weight isn't going anywhere; my ass has gotten toned but it isn't any smaller, and if anything I've gained weight (about 4 pounds); probably muscle but who knows. The bad news is that they're finding out aerobic exercise doesn't mean much for weightloss; it simply makes your metabolism more efficient. The good news is that you can drop the volume and focus on intensity to get more bang for your workout buck and kickstart your metabolism. To really trigger weightloss thru exercise, there's beginning to be good evidence that the key is lifting heavy things (deadlifts / olympic lifts / weighted squats / kettlebells) 1x/week and doing hard anaerobic intervals - 30 minutes of VO2MAX / max power workouts on the bike and/or fartleks (sprints) on the track twice or 3x per week is going to net far more return than multiple 4 hour days of long steady cycling or any amount of slow jogging, so if you can handle the pain, the great decrease in time commitment is super awesome.

The problem with this approach is that you can easily get hurt by doing too much intensity too soon, and without proper training & supervision, so caveat emptor.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2012

Grouchiness can be a sign of what our nutritionist called "catabolism", ie the body going into starvation mode and destroying muscle for energy instead of fat because it's simultaneously working harder and getting fewer calories. Other signs are being tired and not being able to sleep well.

Folks have given you good advice - eat more often, eat the things your body needs to realize that no, it's not starving, and it can start burning off the fats instead of using muscle for energy.

PS - Our nutritionist was overseeing a program where we had access to a scale that would tell us our bodyfat percentage. Even though all of us in the program had been told how much we needed to eat and to up the exercise too precipitously, we all went catabolic at least once or twice. It's hard to feed our bodies all the fuel they need when building muscle and losing fat, but by eating, sleeping, and resting more, we all burned more fat and built more muscle (a group of eight women over 12 weeks). And muscle burns calories along with enabling us to do more. Good luck, you can do this AND feel happy and energized!
posted by ldthomps at 9:24 AM on January 9, 2012

I am eating three meals a day and trying to fit in all of the basic food groups. My calorie intake is about 1200 per day. I ride my elliptical for 30 minutes and do 15 minutes of spot exercises. I have always been an insomniac, but can only sleep 6 hours a night. If I try to go to bed before 11:00, I toss and turn which keeps my husband awake. I have to wake up at 5:15 to get ready for work.

I think I will have smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 main meals. It makes sense.

Thank you for your responses!
posted by sybarite09 at 9:48 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

How long have you been doing this? I'm doing roughly the same thing right now -- the first 3-5 days, you're an asshole. After that it should even out and feel perfectly normal. One caveat: Cheating hits the reset button. If you've been eating perfectly for 3 days and you cheat on the 4th, expect to take a few days to not be crabby again.

If you've been doing it longer than that (without cheating) then I have no advice other than the 5-6 meals per day thing.

Also, someone here is bound to tell you that 1200 per day is too little, especially when exercising. Don't listen to them -- it's fine. Just gradually up it as you reach your goal, and make sure you're getting the nutrients you need.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:01 AM on January 9, 2012

Contrary to the comment above, I actually find when I feel really cranky and grumpy, it's time to have a "cheat day" and let myself eat what I want (within reason - and more fats than carbs). Then I feel less deprived and usually it helps put me in a better mood. I give myself a cheat day once a week when I diet; it seems to shake my metabolism up. I don't schedule it, I just take it when I think I need it. Every body is different - you have to find what works for yours.
posted by flex at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2012

All the suggestions thus far assume the diet iss the culprit.

It sounds like you were "advised" by either your husband, or pressured by the impressions of your friends to lose the weight in the 1st place.

All the suggestions will work, as long as what I said above is not the case. If it *is* the case, you will have to reclaim the diet as one that satisfies your own requirements of weight loss - even if that means you decide not to lose any weight at all.
posted by Kruger5 at 10:56 AM on January 9, 2012

The first week is PURE HELL

This. The first four or five days that I cut refined sugars and simple carbs, I am a cranky mess. Once that time frame passes, everything get much, much better.

If you can't bear to give up caffeine, make sure you are drinking a lot of water. Also, water can help if you feel like you are starving for something to eat. If you start to think "I'm getting hungry", drink water and then have your snack or meal.

Small snacks (follow the portion sizes!) will help tremendously. I have also found that I am full from just a portion of my main meal, once I am past the first week. So a piece of steak or chicken that is the size of a deck of cards will truly fill me up. A small apple will be satisfactory vs. one of the oversized gigantic ones.
posted by lootie777 at 10:59 AM on January 9, 2012

For me, there's a period of crankiness, a couple of days of slightly manic feelings, and then I return to my normal self after a week or so. This will happen to me even if all I do is stop eating junk food; it's not about starving so much as it's about a severe Twizzler deficiency. Low gravy levels.

Also my first period afterwards is a freaking nightmare. YMMV on that one.

And yes, if I cheat, I start over.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

"You need to make sure you're eating enough to keep your sugars up."

Wrong! You need to make sure that you are eating foods that don't cause huge s sugar fluctuations. Big difference!
Avoid your blood sugar going high in the first place, then you won't have a sky-dive drop.

2 big meals or 6 small meals,, it doesn't make a difference; if your blood sugar spikes, it will come down, and with that so comes the grumpiness.

I don't know what kind of food you're eating, but make sure to avoid these big fluctuations in blood sugar, and you will be able to diet without becoming a grouch.

Google "how to prevent fluctuations in blood sugar" or reply here... And good luck on your weight loss this new year!
posted by midnightmoonlight at 12:41 PM on January 9, 2012

You're eating 1200? What is your weight, age, and height?
posted by schroedinger at 1:58 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't lose too much, too fast.
Not only will that cause grumpiness, but your body will put in place all these measures to compensate the famine that you are clearly experiencing.
It has millions of years of evolution behind it, it knows what it's looking at! Diet? What's this newfangled 'diet' thing?

Also, eat very, very low Glycemic Index food. Having very stable blood sugar levels will help. Nothing that spikes it, and don't let it get too low. If you start feeling grumpy, eat some protein.
posted by Elysum at 3:51 PM on January 9, 2012

I know I'm late, and hopefully you're over the worst of it, but here's my experience...

It turns out I (used to! touch wood) eat mostly for comfort, rather than because I am (was) actually hungry. I rearranged my meals to have only a few (two, sometimes three) meals, where I get to eat food that I like in portions large enough to feel satisfying to me. Reminding myself that there was something really great in only a few hours helped take the edge off of my moodiness in a way that small, unsatisfying (to me) snacks didn't.

And yes, like everyone else said, eventually I got used to it and at some point after that people started commenting on how much weight I lost, and then it became a happy spiral.
posted by anaelith at 5:35 AM on January 11, 2012

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