#GirlBoner Wellness: 5 Ways Dieting Zaps Libido

Today I’m donning my nutritionist cap. Who knew it paired so well with my Girl Boner? Then again, don’t Girl Boners go beautifully with just about anything? Whew! I thought so. 😉 Okay, back to business.

I’ve long believed that the way we approach food and eating says a heck of a lot about the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Well guess what: Our food attitudes can also reflect a great deal about our sexual selves.

And healthy! Yes, even that veggie-loaded pizza, as part of a balanced diet.

And healthy! Yes, even that veggie-loaded pizza, as part of a balanced diet.

5 Seriously Unsexy Dieting Risks

The diet industry is a mega-machine, pulling in over $40 billion in the United States each year. As the industry flourishes, our nation’s overall health steadily declines, along with female sexual desire—and not by chance, in my opinion. Whether we call them diets, cleanses, programs or lifestyle plans, most eating patterns that impose heavy restriction are risky for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Restrictive plans can also zap our libido and make sex less pleasurable when we have it. Here are some of the ways dieting can detract from our ability to enjoy sensual, savory sex lives:

1. Exhaustion. Trying to stay energized with a deficient nutritional tank is like trying to run your vibrator on a fizzling out battery. Exactly! It won’t work. This is important because tiredness is a leading cause of libido loss in women and men. When we eat too few calories or carbohydrates, the body and brain’s main fuel source, we’re likely to feel drained. Skipping meals and under-eating interferes with blood sugar control, leading to that groggy “crash” feeling. Dieting also raises the risk of binge eating significantly, according to the National Eating Disorders Association—another common cause of exhaustion and fatigue.

2. Bad breath. Low-carb diets, such as the Atkins Diet, encourage partakers to reach a state of ketosis, a risky state in which the body tries to utilize fat, rather than carbs, as energy. The chemicals the body releases during ketosis cause putrid-smelling breath, among other problems. I don’t know about you, but stinky breath is not on my turn-on list.

3. Brain fog. Foggy thinking makes it difficult to desire or engage in sex. It’s tiresome, makes us feel overall low and tinkers with brain chemicals vital for sexual arousal. Restrictive diets typically don’t provide sufficient amounts of glucose—the natural sugar derived from carbohydrates, which allows for brain function. Each cell in your brain requires twice as much glucose as the rest of your body’s cells. I’m no math genius, but it’s not tough to configure those consequences. A strict vegetarian diet that lacks protein, and a diet lacking in omega-3s (prevalent in cold-water fish, flaxseeds, soy and walnuts) can also stimulate brain fog.

4. Bloating, gas and constipation. Digestive issues are about as tantalizing as, well, diarrhea. Juice fasts, detox diets and any plan that encourages fiber or laxative supplements (very common in low-carb plans) cause a slew of digestive side effects. The excessive amounts of sugar in juices often causes gassiness. If you juice for days on end or repeatedly, you run the risk of experiencing abdominal cramping and loose stools. Laxatives, including natural supplements such as psyllium husk, cause similar effects. Eating a high-protein, low-fiber diet is likely to cause constipation, which triggers bloating, uncomfortable fullness and gassiness.

5. Anxiety, stress and depression. One of the most common side effects of dieting is heightened stress—a major sex drive tanker. Diets tend to be difficult to follow and stick to, making way for frustration. Dieting can also make it difficult to dine out or anywhere with non-dieting loved ones. If you eat too few carbs, you run the risk of developing what psychologists have coined the “Atkin’s Blues,” a state in which your brain produces too few feel-good chemicals. (Sufficient carbohydrate intake allows your brain to produce these chemicals.) And with a less than 5 percent success rate, dieters’ chances of a slowed metabolism, eventual weight gain and a sense of failure run extremely high. All of these issues move lovemaking far from the forefront of our minds, in a sense teaching us that we’re not deserving of a nourishing dietary or sexual lifestyle.

Blah!

A Healthy Alternative

But there is hope! Lucky for all of us, the same dietary principles that promote physical and emotional health also support a vibrant libido and sex life. While the specifics of our dietary needs may vary, there are a few universal, scientific facts. We all need macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, protein and fat, and micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. By emphasizing nutritious sources (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish…), eating balanced meals and/or snacks at regular time intervals and cutting ourselves some slack (low-nutrient fare is fine in moderation), generally healthy folks can rest assured that our needs will be met. We also won’t starve our bodies or our Girl Boners in the process. THANK GOODNESS! 

How much should we eat? 

Rather than count calories or grams, I recommend honing in and listening to your body. When we eat primarily whole foods, which provide all of those essential nutrients, and do so mindfully—paying attention to the food, our bodies and our hungry/full signals—we know when enough is enough. If you’re not quite there yet, the ‘plate method’ can be helpful. Fill half of your meal plates with produce, one quarter with a healthy carb, and one quarter with lean protein. (Use fat sources sparingly. Prepare fish or chicken in olive oil, for example, or sprinkle your salad with nuts.) If you carry excess weight, really emphasize fiber-rich foods and amp up your fruit and veggie intake. Mindful eating is another great way to keep our appetites, weight and food portions in check. Instead of focusing on eating less or what to avoid, focus on gratitude, eating more of the super healthy stuff and listening to your body.

One more tip: While you’re increasing your intake of those healthy, fiber-rich foods, do so gradually. Otherwise you might need to bulk up on candles and aromatherapy during playtime *clears throat* – IYKWIM. If you’re wondering about other foods to limit before naked fun, stay tuned! We’ll be delving into that topic soon.

Are you guilty of the above dieting don’ts? Have you noticed a correlation between sex drive and your diet? Any questions for me while I have this fruit and veggie sculpture on my head? (What did you think a nutritionist’s cap would look like?) I adore your thoughts, so share, ask and gab away! ♥ And remember to join me in Girl Boner chit chat on Twitter and Facebook throughout the week. I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time limiting such chatter to Mondays.

Leave a comment

28 Comments

  1. Can’t be anything wrong with my dietary intake… LOL… all good in that department, or do these things only affect woman??

    Reply
  2. Hmm, bad breath, brain fog, depression, constipation and lack of sexual interest. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like the Atkins diet. Great post, August!

    Reply
    • So glad you spoke of Atkins in past tense, Kassandra! Here’s to staying healthy in all ways. 🙂

      Reply
      • I was never on it, August. I was studying nutrition around the time that the first low-carb, high protein diet came out (not sure if that was Atkins or somebody else). Our nutrition teacher warned us against it, pointing out that it could trigger kidney disease.

      • Whew. Even better! Sounds like you had a great teacher.

  3. Here here! And what a great way to frame – I lost my sex drive for over two years while I Master Cleansed my way to dangerously low weight. Now, I try to only eat food in its natural state – which often includes a good bit of spics and non-oleo condiments to keep it interesting – and my cravings (sexual and nutritional) have been reset. My life feels in my control, and when it gets overwhelming I can breathe through it now because, well, I can BREATHE now. x

    Reply
    • I’m so grateful that you’re in a healthier, stronger place physically and emotionally, Elle! Breathing easy is a beautiful sign. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Raani York

     /  June 24, 2013

    You know I love your blog and I envy you for your talent!
    This is why I nominated you for the “Shine on” Blog Award. You can find it here:

    http://raaniyork.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/shine-on-award/

    I really think your blog is special and you deserve this Award!

    Reply
  5. Hey, August –

    That’s awesome that your blog’s been nominated for a much deserved award!

    I totally agree that the sensual qualities of food and sex are tied together. If you haven’t read “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” it’s a great guide on how quality & variety trumps starving & dieting.

    They say that tango is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Whether or not that’s true, tango is definitely a sensual experience.

    It’s about getting back in tune with yourself and your partner, never mind a floor full of other dancers. It’s about re-awakening our bodies and feeling each breath, each step we take.. each beat, each note of the music.

    Similarly, when I’ve taught tango, I emphasize the need for people today to open up their senses. So much of modern life makes us withdrawn, disconnected.. tuning out to handle all the information overload and to protect ourselves from all the scary consequences of modern life – shootings, HIV, on & on.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the tango dancers I know love great food and drink as well. Plus, it’s not about quantity because they need to stay light on their feet!

    But there’s something about tango – that you just want to dance more, even when you’re exhausted and famished after a night of dancing. Too much of dieting is about tuning out – ignoring that your body is hungry or using drugs & other ways to try to numb it.

    In the end mindfulness is more sustainable. We’re not meant to tune out – life is short enough; we need to tune in to our breaths or we’ll miss those moments that take our breath away!

    Reply
    • What great analogies tango provides. I love the mindfulness part you mentioned—profoundly applicable to sexuality and diet. Thanks for weighing in, John! Cheers to those breathtaking moments. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Catherine Johnson

     /  June 24, 2013

    That pizza looks delicious, I’d follow that into thexbedroom lol. No fear of crazy diets for me, but if I eat too much and feel bloated not in the mood at all.

    Reply
  7. I love this post. I have over the past couple of years gone from being morbidly obese, to being severely obese, to being just plain obese. I’ve lost 55 pounds I’m still working my way down to plain old overweight and then to normal. I’ve done this by the same suggestions you made…nutritious food, variety, balanced meals spread out through the day. And I have kept track of what I eat in the simplest way I can – I keep track of it on an online calculator. So many people have, during my lifetime, tried to get me to try this or that diet, or this or that exercise program. I spent so many years failing at every diet I ever tried that when people thought they were being helpful it would just make me feel worse about myself and would often leave me in tears. Try having a good libido when you feel that you are a fat failure. Now, I am on a path to self love and acceptance. In that place, I don’t need to diet. I just need to take good care of myself. Weight loss is just a side effect. And so is a much improved libido.

    Reply
    • I LOVE this, Diane: “Now, I am on a path to self love and acceptance. In that place, I don’t need to diet. I just need to take good care of myself.”

      Kudos! You are an inspiration, and are no doubt inspiring those around you to ditch the diets and focus on self-care. You’re absolutely right about sexual perks and weight loss being natural byproducts. (Talk about healthy, delicious frosting. ;))

      Reply
  8. I guess I’m really weird because even when I felt my worst, and that was pretty bad, nothing really killed my sex drive – except the negative words and actions of a guy maybe. Those things will put the fire out in a big hurry. But as for what we eat, I do agree. I would say that 80% of everything I consume these days is based on how it will make me feel physically and mentally. Trying to get the upper hand with thyroid related fatigue is quite a challenge, so the only diet I really follow is to eat the foods that make me feel the best. Unless it’s the week before my period…and then I don’t care. Sometimes you just have to have a brownie. I figure those help me in two ways. One, it eases PMS related chocolate cravings, and two, it keeps me out of jail (because if I don’t have the chocolate when I need it, violence will likely follow). 😀

    Reply
    • I’m glad that nothing’s killed your sex drive, Kristy! Super cool. 🙂 I’m also happy to hear that you eat primarily based on physical and emotional consequences—yet still give yourself that wiggle room for “whatever.” So true about those brownies!

      Reply
  9. Love this August. Most people don’t think about how much food affects their mood and energy but it DOES! I once did a raw food liquid cleanse and, though it’s not practical to live on a diet like that, it showed me just how much food affects me. I felt SO good 🙂

    Reply
  10. You know, I found that for me, minimizing carbs and switching to complex ones when I ate…along with exercise (and cutting soda and sweet tea) from my diet helped me lose weight without any major shocks to my system…and the libido was great! As for sexy food, I’ve always dug mango and peaches…and I think it makes my “special sauce” taste better..LOLOL!

    Reply
    • LOL Woo hoo, Kitt! I may have to host a Girl Boner special sauce recipe contest. 😉

      So glad you’ve found ways to eat great food, have great sex and stay active – and bypass all of the “yuck” of dieting!

      Reply
  11. You’re so funny, August! I want to use candles in the bedroom to help the mood, not camouflage anything. This vertigo stuff has me looking at food in ways I never have before. It’s been an interesting journey of discovery. Clean eating and keeping foods as close to nature has been key. If you’ll excuse me now, I need to go get some mango and peaches for tomorrow’s smoothies. 😉

    Reply
  12. Did the Atkins diet decades ago, and I can attest to the breath problem. And it’s tough to counter, it
    comes straight from your stomach. Now days with more vegetarian possibilities, Atkins has lost some steam.

    Reply
  13. Not much to say here – it’s all true.

    Reply
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