Study: Cutting Processed Foods From Diet Can Be Like Withdrawal From Drugs

September 19, 2018 - 7:38 pm

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - Does dieting make you a little cranky? Leave you feeling out of sorts?  

A new study by the University of Michigan shows people who cut out unhealthy, highly processed junk foods actually suffer withdrawal symptoms similar to those suffered by addicts who give up drugs. 

"Often times weight management efforts tell you if you can get through the first week - that's the most intense - and then after that, your body starts to regulate," says researcher Erica Schulte. 

"What those processes are that seem to make those symptoms decline - we're not yet completely aware of with respect to food, really, or addiction - so, the next step is to figure out what is really going on."

Schulte says over 230 adults studied reported a variety of symptoms when cutting out junk food for a year, including anxiety, depression, headaches, irritability, and cravings.

"It's that combination of fat and sugar, we don't really know how it functions ... yet," says Schulte. "That reward is so central and it's that combination - more than just sugar alone for humans most rewarding and potentially problematic in triggering withdrawl as we've seen."

The symptoms usually lessen within a week.