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Turns out, strict dieting can make you sad and lonely. Who would have thunk it?

If you're planning to restrict your diet, be cautious as deprivation of certain foods might make you feel left out and lonely.
dietary restriction
Giving up on your favourite foods might make you feel sad Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 25 Dec 2019, 10:00 am IST
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There is no denying the fact that there is a wide range of fad diets out there in the health and nutrition circuit. With increasing popularity, a lot of people are now opting for diets that involve certain dietary restrictions. If you happen to be one of them or are soon planning to adopt a diet–you might end up feeling lonely and sad.

As intriguing as it may sound, people with dietary restrictions are more likely to feel left out when they can’t share what others are eating, reveals a new study.

Imagine you’re sitting with a bunch of friends at a lunch table, and you suddenly realise that you cannot savour half of the stuff present there solely because you are on a strict diet regime like vegan, gluten-free, or keto. Depressing, right?

This is precisely what this study is all about
“Despite being physically present with others, having a food restriction leaves people feeling left out because they are not able to take part in bonding over the meal,” said Kaitlin Woolley, assistant professor of marketing in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management and lead author of the research.

Also read: That diet soda can give you diabetes and science blames artificial sweeteners for it

The researchers conducted seven studies and controlled experiments.

The Cornell University research also offers the first evidence that having a food restriction causes increased loneliness. In one experiment, assigning unrestricted individuals to experience a food restriction increased reported feelings of loneliness. It suggests that such feelings are not driven by non-food issues or limited to picky eaters, Woolley said.

“We can strip that away and show that assigning someone to a restriction or not can have implications for their feeling of inclusion in the group meal,” she said.

Bonding over meals is an inherently social experience, Woolley notes.

Whether you’re restricting eating certain foods due to allergies, health issues or religious or cultural norms, this feeling is bound to occur. People felt lonelier regardless of how severe their restriction was, or whether their restriction was imposed or voluntary.

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The study concluded that food restrictions and loneliness are on the rise and “may be related epidemics,” warranting further research.

With inputs from ANI

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