New research just published (Dec. 11, 2012) in the International Journal of Obesity, titled: Adaptations in brain reward circuitry underlie palatable food cravings and anxiety induced by high fat withdrawal, shows that taking animals (possibly including humans) off their normal high-fat diet and into a weight-loss, low-fat regimen, induces brain changes that drive the organism to depression, cravings, and behaviours intended to restore its normal diet.
Here’s the somewhat sensationalized layman’s summary in The Telegraph. I always like to go to the original research, the abstract of which can be found here. The authors of the study coin a wonderful term for the phenomenon, “Palatable food relapse”. Brilliant! I’m going to use this every time my wife catches me with my hand in the cookie jar: “No dear, I’m not binging, I’m having a palatable food relapse”.
The study is part of a new research push to uncover why dieting and weight loss are so unsustainable; an observation that was made many years ago, but has only recently begun to be unravelled. The findings of all the studies increasingly demonstrate that any effort to reduce calories almost immediately sets in place permanent mechanisms to regain and preserve weight; part of the evolutionary genetic starvation prevention survival mechanism.