If you’ve ever been on a diet, you realize that sometimes cutting calories or food groups can leave you feeling cranky. Take it from Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson, it takes lifestyle changes, hard work, and time to shed those unwanted pounds. After wading through all the false facts about dieting to determine the best way forward, even careful modifications can lead to mood swings and negative thoughts.
According to Shape, there’s a good reason why dieting and mood are related. “Changes in brain chemistry that can affect your mood occur when you restrict calories,” said Dr. Gary L. Wenk, professor at The Ohio State University. Serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, and sleep, fluctuates when you’re hungry, making it difficult to control your temper.
From feeling hangry to experiencing overwhelming cravings, a lot happens mentally and physically when you embark on a journey to change your eating habits. The good news: With careful planning, you can avoid the crabbiness often associated with dieting.
Consider this if you feel crabby while dieting
While it may seem like eating healthier should make you instantly feel better, that’s not always the case. Eat Your Way To Happiness author Elizabeth Somer, R.D. told Shape that dieting can cause a serious case of crankiness “when you go to extremes or cut out the wrong foods.”
Think about it: If you’re used to cozying up with a banana split every evening, and suddenly, your plate looks like the one in this picture, your body and your brain are definitely going to notice. “When you’re going too hard, too fast, you’re even more prone to mood swings,” licensed clinical psychologist Katie Rickel told My Fitness Pal.
It’s not just physical problems, like low blood sugar or dehydration, that could be getting you down. “Dieting-related crabbiness stems not just from your body’s physical state. It also comes from mental fatigue,” Dr. Pauine Wallin wrote in a column for PennLive. “As you know, it takes concentrated effort to change your eating habits, especially at the beginning. That effort uses up mental strength, which gets depleted.” As with physical strength, mental strength also uses energy, and to regain it, you must rest.
Let’s discuss some other steps you can take to reduce moodiness when adjusting your diet.
How to keep calm while changing your diet
There are positive things you can do when changing your diet to help avoid mood swings.
Instead of making a dramatic change, start small, Katie Rickel told My Fitness Pal. “When you’re first trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to make drastic changes to your eating or exercise plan, but you’re setting yourself up for failure because you can’t possibly stick with it.”
Other strategies to curb crankiness include eating high-quality meals and snacks at regular intervals. Keep in mind that a healthy diet doesn’t mean you should eat as little as possible. Eating enough is very important. According to Shape, most women should consume at least 1,500 calories per day or more when exercising.
Ensuring you are getting enough rest on a regular basis also helps improve mood. At least seven to ten hours of sleep is optimal for most people.
No matter how hard you try, you may still experience some grumpy moments while dieting. “If you do get irritable, avoid picking arguments,” Dr. Pauline Wallin wrote in a column for PennLive. Cut yourself some slack. “If necessary, involve yourself in a solitary physical task, away from other people. Your bad mood will pass, and you’ll emerge on the other side with renewed strength for tomorrow.”
Cheers to a more cheerful you!
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