Nobody likes dieting, but many people endure it for their health and vanity. You must burn more calories than you consume to lose weight, and a calorie-deficient diet can cause a few common side effects — including moodiness. If you feel emotional or experience mood swings while dieting, you’re not alone. Moodiness is fairly common among dieters and there are a couple of things you can do to minimize it. Always talk with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
The main cause of moodiness for disgruntled dieters is low blood sugar. When you restrict calories too much or wait too long between meals, blood glucose plummets. Because glucose is what your brain uses for fuel, going too long between meals can disrupt brain function and cause irritability, confusion or fatigue. When blood sugar drops too low, your body is then forced to increase its production of cortisol to maintain minimum glucose to the brain, which can cause depression and irritability. Try to eat small, balanced meals every three to four hours to avoid these hormonal imbalances.
Skimping on Carbohydrates
Just as skipping meals can cause hormonal fluctuations and moodiness — so can eating inadequate carbohydrates. Even if you’re eating regularly, but aren’t taking in enough carbs, your blood sugar, along with your mood, will drop. Carbs have gotten a bad rap from many mainstream diets, but not all of the negative press is warranted. Eating carbs won’t make you fat — eating too many will. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories. Avoid processed foods and meet your intake needs with fresh produce and whole grains.
A lack of vital nutrients can have a negative effect on your emotions. Deficiencies in iron, folic acid and thiamine can cause moodiness. According to an analysis published in the “Indian Journal of Psychiatry,” mental disorders and moodiness can also result from inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and amino acids. A multivitamin and mineral supplement can help with nutritional deficiencies, but eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fat sources is the best solution.
Emotions and Food
Because foods rich in carbohydrates temporarily increase blood sugar and serotonin levels, self-medication with cookies, pizza and other junk foods may elevate your mood briefly, but will ultimately set off a hormonal cascade that will keep you in a cycle of emotional lows and binge eating. If you slip up in your diet, don’t beat yourself up. Simply acknowledge that you ate something that wasn’t good for you, and get back on track. Lamenting over missteps will just make you feel worse and make it very hard to return to your diet.