How Long Until This Healthy Eating "Kicks In"

Updated on January 07, 2015
A.S. asks from Glendora, CA
11 answers

I recently cleaned up my eating and have been eating sort of a Mediterranean-style diet- lots of fruits and vegetables fish, nuts, olive oil, whole grains (such as quinoa and farro). I am also back to exersizing after 2 weeks of nothing, which was a horrible idea because I am usually pretty faithful with exercise as I know it affects my mood. I am hoping to decrease my anxiety levels and just generally feel better with better mood/energy etc. Prior to this my diet was pretty bad for the last several months- lots of sweets, hot Cheetos, chips, bread, wine etc. It has only been a few days but I am still feeling down in the dumps - I know I need to be patient. How long does it take to start feeling better mentally after cleaning up one's diet?

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answers from Seattle on

For me it usually takes 5-7 days to start feeling better. For my husband it takes longer. Hang in there and remember that you are eating better for the long-term health benefits. Another thing to try is an elimination diet to see if there is a particular food you are eating that is causing the anxiety. I felt a ton better physically after cutting sugars and grains, but even more in control mentally when I cut out coffee. :( That's a tricky one for me to stick to though. For the first 4 days of starting the elimination diet I felt like I was in a fog. Then on the 5th day I felt an incredible sense of calm and felt "normal" for the first time. Anxiety is a b!tch, so I hope you find some relief.

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answers from Boston on

Honestly, it's so individual. It's wintertime, so you are not eating fresh local produce anyway, so everything was grown in another country, picked early, and shipped here. You have no idea what's in the soil anywhere unless it's your local farm, so the freshest produce can still be nutrient-deficient. You've built up a lot of "stuff" in your body, from toxins to "sludge" coating the walls of your intestines. Absorption is affected, obviously, so what you chew and swallow is not necessarily what gets into your cells. But that's true of everyone, at all times of the year, to some degree.

Anxiety is a tough thing, as are other issues like depression. You may be on the seesaw of wanting to exercise but not having the energy to do so, so you don't get the mental boost from the exercise (endorphins) or the faster metabolism or the cardio benefit.

The body takes a while to detox, certainly - but please don't rush it by doing one of those fad cleanses! They are so so stressful for the body and they can be dangerous. I work in food science and do a lot of education around this, and I can tell you that comprehensive nutrition (generally with high absorption supplements) and slow, regular, safe detox can make all the difference. Slow and steady wins the race - but we live in such an instant society that we are very impatient. You have to have reasonable expectations of your food - it's very well known that today's food just doesn't have the nutrient content it had 40 or 50 years ago, so we have to eat thousands of calories more to get the same intake. Hence we have to supplement - responsibly and with non-GMO products that work together (no single or isolated nutrients or vitamins).

I battled clinical depression for years - while I didn't have the anxiety that you do, I work with a lot of people who had one, the other, or both. For me, it took 3 months of really solid cellular nutrition (science-based, no fads) to get healthy enough to just not have bronchitis and colds all the time, and 5 months to get off my antidepressants. It took a good 6 months in a fun class of women in my general physical condition (not muscle men or 20 year olds - just a supportive group) to get to the point of lifting enough weight to build muscle. And of course muscle burns more calories than fat. I used the class for my strength and stretching, and alternated with treadmill work for cardio - and I always read a good book on the treadmill to pass the time. I read some mysteries (to occupy my mind with the who-done-it details and keep my eyes of the timer) and I read some self-affirming things, and I found it was better to NOT read the People magazines with all the gossip and focus on skinny actresses.

I think the thing to do is to make each day just a little better than the one before - walk a little farther or do it a little faster, go up one notch on the weights every 2 weeks, etc. Track your repetitions and weights - if you use a gym, get one of those cards that lists which machines at what weight, etc. DO NOT get on the scale every day - don't track that at all. In general, you'll find your clothes fit better before the number of pounds on the scale goes down. Don't give up. Get a pedometer but don't go crazy with the 10,000 step goal. Just do a few more today than you did yesterday. Park a little farther from the store entrance, walk the long way if you can, take a stroll around the block or walk the dog when you feel down. And don't beat up on yourself if you have a chip. All things in moderation.

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answers from Norfolk on

Generally I think time in is going to equal time out.
If your diet was pretty bad for several months, then you can expect it might take several months for your body to make the switch and adjust to your healthier lifestyle.
This is modified by how healthy for how long you were before your slump.
If you never had a slump like that before - your body will adjust more quickly because that's where normal was for you and it gravitates towards that normal.
So maybe it'll come more quickly for you.

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answers from Denver on

Good for you!! I'm impressed by the changes you list here! Exercise should make you feel better almost immediately, especially if it's something you've done for a while (minus the two weeks). I would guess the hardest thing is the sugar withdrawal now. Everyone I know who has cut sugar out had a rough few days to start, between 3-6 days of feeling grouchy, headachy, or sluggish. So you should be right on the cusp of that! I would say keep up the exercise for sure, especially cardio, and just hold on another day or two and you should start feeling better. Way to go mama!!

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answers from Chicago on

You are doing beautifully! There is, as you know, a strong mind/body connection so be sure you are nurturing your mind, as well, in order to see results. In addition to dietary changes, and exercise, be sure you are finding ways to reduce stress. Way to go!

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answers from New York on

It actually takes a couple weeks before you really start to feel better. First you go through the crappy feelings that come from your body getting rid of all that excess salt, sugar, and bad overly processed stuff. Once that happens you start to feel a little different but it takes a few weeks before you say 'Damn girl, I feel great today.'

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answers from St. Louis on

One thing I know about myself when I have tried to lose weight or change up my diet is to not let myself get too hungry. I have found if I do that the first week or so I find I feel extremely deprived and hungry and irritable

So, I don't recommend stuffing yourself, but if you need another handful of nuts or some extra hummus and veggies or whole grain chips, I would just have it, with no guilt attached until you get used to your new way of eating...maybe another couple of weeks or so.

Plus if you can get outside every day for even a 15-20 min walk or so, that may boost your mood too. Walks outside or even working in the yard, really helps my stress level I've found.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I can often feel better in a a day or two if I had really been doing badly on sugar, wine, no exercise and too much processed white flour. Sometimes it has even taken 3.

But I can also think of times it took closer to 4 -6 weeks to really notice changes on diet in my energy. Like the time I went from eating reasonably healthy on a lacto ovo vegetarian diet and transisitoned to a plant based one. That was a different kind of change altogether.

When I feel really bad and off, especially if my appetite is craving junk and too much of it, I don't just clean up my diet, i put myself in a food time out. I juice fast for 2-3 days. That really helps me reboot and then I also appreciate the simple taste of fruits and vegetables when I do add back in solids.

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answers from Washington DC on

eating poorly affects my mood too (which ought to be enough to deter me but nooooooo), but honestly, working out is the thing that pulls me out of the doldrums more than anything else.
give it a week, and go for a brisk walk in the sunshine every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. i'll bet you snap out of it PDQ.
and good luck on your re-commitment to eating well! i'm joining you.
:) khairete



answers from Las Vegas on

That's wonderful!! I just read about the benefits of eating good food today. My daughter has asthma and I was interested in what foods are a good diet for an asthmatic.

The Mediterranean diet was a very well balanced diet from what I read and there was a lot of mention about mood.

I would say it depends on how long it takes to get any toxins out of your body. I don't do this, but my older daughter detoxes. She drinks some lemon concoction, with cinnamon.

Keep eating healthy and they will come out eventually.


answers from San Francisco on

It's going to take your body 21 days to really finally adjust to the change. Also it takes your brain that long to adjust as well. It's not an easy change so stick with it.

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