If you've been feeling blue, anxious and stressed lately, consider dropping the donut and pizza slice and cutting out fatty foods from your diet altogether.
Because a new study out of Montreal has found that in addition to causing health-related problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, the consumption of rich, fatty foods has been shown to cause the same kind of chemical reaction as illicit drugs: while that deep-fried chicken drumstick may provide instant gratification and a food high, the tail-end of the experience is a crashing low of depression and anxiety, scientists said.
For their study, published in the International Journal of Obesity and announced last week, researchers found that mice fed a high-fat diet exhibited signs of anxiety and depression such as avoiding open areas and making less of an effort to escape when trapped.
Scientists found that brains were also physically altered. Mice fed a diet high in fat had higher levels of corticosterone, a hormone associated with stress, and had higher activities of a molecule known as CREB, which has been linked to increased depressive behavior.
The latest research builds on previous studies which have also likened compulsive eating behaviors to drug use.
After watching women's brain activity as they were presented with images of a milkshake, researchers from Yale University found that seeing the dessert drink fired up the same parts of the brain as a drug addict who sees cocaine.
Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in Florida came to similar conclusions in 2010 when they found that overconsumption of high-calorie foods can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain.
Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic offers advice on how to change the food environment at home. For example, keep less food at home than usual to avoid temptation. Keeping the house junk food-free also eliminates visual cues.