‘Tis the season to seriously overhaul your eating habits in order to look and feel better in the new year. Right? Not so fast. Making major changes to your diet in January—or any time—doesn’t lead to automatic happiness and shredded muscles. In fact, it can do just the opposite.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that switching from a diet filled with high-fat foods to one that includes mostly low-fat fare may cause chemical changes in the brain that make you feel like you're going through drug withdrawals. In short, your body is shocked by a sudden lack of fatty foods, like bacon, cheeseburgers, and doughnuts, so depression and cravings creep in and a vicious cycle of bad moods and unhealthy eating habits ensues.
During the study, researchers fed one group of mice a low-fat diet (11% of daily calories came from fat) and another a high-fat diet (58% of calories from fat) for six weeks. The high-fat group was more anxious due to chemical changes in areas of the brain that control pleasure and rewards. Levels of a stress hormone called corticosterone were also elevated among mice that were fed a high-fat diet.
To help you revamp your diet without messing with your mood, we’ve rounded up some healthy eating tips that will boost energy and keep stress at bay while you take off unwanted pounds.
- Fill up on foods that reduce stress, like asparagus, avocados, blueberries and almonds.
- Incorporate nutrients such as B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet by eating salmon, chicken and whole grains.
- Chow down on foods that rev up energy levels, like eggs, edamame, trail mix, quinoa and pumpkin seeds.
- It’s best to create a healthy meal plan and slowly ease into a new diet. Learn how to get back to basics when it comes to grocery shopping and cooking.