Avoiding Junk Foods Can Cause Real Withdrawal

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Avoiding Junk Foods Can Cause Real Withdrawal
Avoiding Junk Foods Can Cause Real Withdrawal

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Avoiding junk foods can cause real withdrawal

Stopping eating unhealthy foods like hamburgers and pizza can cause withdrawal symptoms, according to a new American study. This condition can be compared to that experienced by drug addicts in the first days after quitting drugs. The results have been published in the new issue of Appetite magazine.

Avoiding junk foods can cause real withdrawal
Avoiding junk foods can cause real withdrawal

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Stopping eating unhealthy foods like hamburgers and pizza can cause withdrawal symptoms, according to a new American study. This condition can be compared to that experienced by drug addicts in the first days after quitting drugs. The results have been published in the new issue of Appetite magazine.

The new study is considered the first to assess withdrawal symptoms experienced by those who stop consuming highly processed foods such as baked goods, fries and pizza.

"Previous studies have focused on sugar withdrawal symptoms in animals, and the human literature has only been in isolated cases," says study lead author Erica Schulte of the University of Michigan.

Sugar and salt are known to make people addicted to salty and sugary foods, prompting people to eat impulsively, which leads to weight gain and poor health. And ignoring the body's pleas for another bottle of sugary soda, another hamburger, or a packet of chips can make people feel bad.

Researchers believe that in this case, dependence on a particular food works like dependence on drugs, tobacco or alcohol, which leads to unpleasant symptoms when quitting it. Anxiety, headaches, irritability and depression are just a few of these manifestations.

According to the researchers, understanding whether withdrawal occurs after stopping high-processed foods is the next step in assessing how addictive foods are.

Schulte and her colleagues created a methodology to measure the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms of people, and then asked 231 people to report what happened when they reduced their consumption of processed foods compared to the previous year.

Participants reported that sadness, irritability, fatigue and cravings for these foods peaked in the first 2-5 days after they stopped eating unhealthy foods, and then these symptoms gradually faded away, which is similar to withdrawal symptoms after using drugs.

The researchers did not consider how abruptly the participants stopped eating unhealthy foods - either immediately or gradually reducing the amount. Schulte argues that future research should analyze the behavior of such people in real time, rather than rely on a retrospective approach.

"Research suggests that withdrawal symptoms can make dietary changes more difficult, which may encourage people to return to unhealthy eating habits," said study co-author Ashley Gearhardt, an assistant professor of psychology.

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