You start a diet to lose weight, get healthy and to feel better. You don’t start a diet for a headache. So, why do the two seem to go together?
What’s the connection between weight loss and headaches?
It is fairly common to experience headaches while dieting or on a weight loss program. Several different nutritional factors can contribute to a headache. Since a diet consists of some dietary changes, headaches can happen. Find out some of the reasons why headaches are associated with dieting, and some tips on how to prevent them all together.
Losing weight means eating fewer calories than your body burns. But if you’re not getting enough or the right kind of calories, you may wind up with fatigue and a calorie deficit headache, which can be counter-productive. Here’s how to avoid a diet headache when you’re losing weight.
Headache Causes & Prevention Tips
Headaches due to Low Sodium & Potassium
One reason why you may have a headache while dieting is because of shifts in fluid and mineral balance in the body. This is especially common when sodium levels get too low.
To prevent headaches related to low sodium/salt, I suggest adding extra table salt to your diet or drinking a cup of prepared bullion twice a day. Table salt has the added benefit of containing potassium, which is an essential mineral for maintaining an array of body processes, and especially crucial when you’re dieting.
Headaches due to Hypoglycemia
The brain needs a continuous supply of glucose from the blood in order to function properly. When glucose levels drop (as in hypoglycemia) the brain is one of the first organs affected, resulting in symptoms such as headache, migraine, confusion, nausea, sweating, faintness, and hypothermia (low body temperature).
To prevent low blood glucose levels, eat small and frequent low-sugar meals, never miss breakfast or skip meals, and eat a healthy afternoon snack to appease hunger.
Headaches due to Dehydration
This condition results from a decrease in total body water content due to less intake or greater fluid loss. Being dehydrated can also undermine weight loss because the body may mistake thirst for hunger.
I recommend staying well-hydrated by drinking 80-100 oz. of water a day.
Headaches due to Artificial sweeteners
Aspartame and sucralose are well tolerated by many people, but they can trigger headaches in a small percentage of people. If aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are a headache trigger for you, avoid foods that include them.
While natural sweeteners activate food reward pathways in the brain, artificial sweeteners, don’t fully activate these pathways, leaving people feeling unsatisfied and increasing their appetite. Consider using honey in your tea or coffee.
Headaches due to Stress
Not only can stress trigger eating binges or make it hard to stick to a diet, but it can also bring on headaches. When you’re under the gun, your body releases a flurry of chemicals like adrenalin or cortisol in response to the stress. In addition to giving you the instant energy you need to fight stress, these chemicals also make the blood vessels in your brain contract, which can result in headaches.
Tension or stress headaches result in telltale signs like dull aching pain; tightness or pressure across the forehead or sides and back of the head; and scalp, neck, and shoulder muscle tenderness.
Exercising regularly can help reduce stress and burn fat. Other ways to reduce stress include deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and scheduling adequate time to unwind every day. And try not to let weight loss be a source of your stress: Some dieters get so anxious about every single ounce instead of patting themselves on the back for small accomplishments. Over the long haul, the scale will dip in the right direction… Down!
Headaches due to Caffeine Withdrawal
Headaches, irritability, and tiredness are common side effects when you stop drinking coffee or other high-caffeine drinks, typically within 24 hours of cessation. It is estimated that about half of people who cut back on caffeine experience headaches and other unpleasant symptoms.
You can avoid these problems by reducing intake gradually. Remember, caffeine isn’t a diet devil, but it’s often consumed as part of sugary sodas or coffee drinks loaded with extra calories from sugar and milk. For most, it’s fine to consume one cup of a caffeine drink daily while you’re dieting, but use skim milk and avoid calorie bombs like flavoured syrups and whipped cream.
If someone wants to achieve their target weight goals it is always better to follow a balanced diet.
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Priyanshi Bhatnagar, a US Certified Holistic Nutritionist Founder of Online Nutrition Company “Detoxpri.in” : A Simple Way To Eat for healthy mind, body & soul and an Author of CONFESSION of a Foodie Nutritionist : A Revolutionary guide to transform your Relationship with Food. She can be reached at www.detoxpri.in
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