Diet mood swings are one of the nastiest side effects of any strict diet. They’re often the byproduct of cutting carbs, or they can simply be the result of just not eating enough. Your mood tends to suffer when you’re not getting enough calories to keep your energy levels up, or when you’re shifting from a regular high carb intake to a more diet-friendly limit on carbs. But the good news is that diet mood swings don’t have to happen, and they don’t have to ruin your life! Here are some tips to help you get rid of them once and for all:
Get More Fat
Cutting carbs is one of the best ways to shift your body to actively burning stored fat. Unfortunately, carbs are the body’s primary energy source, and when you don’t get them, you can become irritable and angry during the time period as your body is changing to burning more fat for energy. During this time, it’s a good idea to increase your intake of fats, particularly healthy plant-based fats. A lack of Omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to depression, hostility, and anger, but getting more of these fats can help to balance out your mood and keep you feeling happier. It’s most important that you drastically increase fat intake during the crucial first few weeks of your low-carb or low-calorie diet.
Don’t Cut Calories Drastically
While you do need to reduce caloric intake in order to have a better balance of “energy in vs. energy out”, cutting too drastically can lead to nasty mood swings. Try to avoid any diet that drops below 1500 calories per day (for men, or 1300 for women), as these low-calorie diets lead to hunger that can trigger brain chemistry changes. Instead, decrease your caloric intake fractionally, and increase the amount of energy you burn on a daily basis by doing more exercise and activity. Or, if you really want to cut back on your calorie intake, do it slowly, cutting just 50 calories per day over the course of a couple of weeks. Easing your body into it will make it much less likely to trigger nasty diet mood swings.
When you feel like you are unable to have something you want or are unable to enjoy what everyone else is, those feelings of deprivation and missing out will make you feel more irritable and angry. In fact, “restraining yourself” or “forgoing something you want” can actually lead to a drop in your blood pressure, which can trigger hypoglycemic feelings of irritation and anger. Your chances of ultimately bingeing on those foods later down the line also increase. Instead of depriving yourself, find healthy alternatives that are equally enjoyable, or simply allow yourself only very small, controlled portions. It’ll be much easier to stay happy when you’re not constantly feeling like you’re missing out on something you enjoy.
Eat Complex Carbs
Cutting carbs can lead to nasty mood swings, especially in the first few weeks while your body is getting used to burning fat for fuel. Instead of cutting carbs totally, make a shift from simple and low-quality carbs to eating only complex, fiber-rich, high quality carbs. Brown rice, whole grains, beans, corn, and other high-quality sources of carbs will give you enough energy to avoid the low-carb mood swings, but they’ll be healthy enough that they won’t interfere with your weight loss efforts. Slowly start phasing them out, but give your body time to adjust to consuming fewer and fewer carbs with each passing day.