Why The New Year’s Diet Feels Like Going Through Drug Withdrawal

Men's Health |

The final feast is over.

The cookie tins are empty. You are facing a plate of salad as part of you New Year’s resolution to lose weight and you feel absolutely wretched.

Here’s why — you are in withdrawal. If you indulged in high-fat, sugary foods during the holiday, chances are you are going through a process akin to drug withdrawal, according to the authors of this mouse study.

Mice were chosen because in many ways their brains are similar to our own, according to researchers from the University of Montreal.

Some mice were fed a low-fat diet for six weeks, while others were fed a high-fat diet. Then some of the mice continued on their diets or were returned to regular mouse chow – the withdrawal intervention.

Researchers found that when fed the high-fat diet, mice developed signs of being anxious and they were hypersensitive to stress. They were withdrawn from a high-fat diet, the mice had a heightened drive to eat “palatable” (i.e. bad) foods and their responses to stress were increased even further.

Researchers found that exposure to high-fat food led to changes in brain chemicals associated with the brain’s reward system. “The chemicals changed by the [high-fat] diet are associated with depression. A change of diet then causes withdrawal symptoms and a greater sensitivity to stressful situations, launching a vicious cycle of poor eating,” says lead author Dr. Stephanie Fulton.

So, there you have it. Stay strong!

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