If you’re going through a break up right now, you’re in the midst of an underrated transition in your life. The loss of someone who was not only a part of your daily life but also your mundane routines can trigger a response of grieving. In that sense, when you lose someone whose voice you were used to sleeping and waking up to – your emotional regulator almost – your body goes into ‘mourning mode’. This can lead to a lot of physiological changes. The feeling that you can’t eat after a breakup is one of them.
At the same time, there already is a lot of pressure to carry on with life because of which most of us don’t take the time to acknowledge and process the change taking place in our mind and body. But the fact remains that post-breakup the ‘normal’ of your life gets disrupted. And your body sinks into a stress-recovery mode. The first step toward handling this problem, like any other, is to embrace its existence and deal with head-on.
Can heartbreak cause loss of appetite? It most definitely can. To help you deal with it, let’s try to understand why you can’t eat with a broken heart and what can be done about it.
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7 Reason Why You Can’t Eat After Breakup
After working with a lot of clients, I’ve come to believe that different people react to stress differently. Some of us tend to overeat under stress, while some of us lose our appetite altogether. Mind-Body & Eating Psychology suggests that there are strong reasons why you can’t eat with a broken heart.
Here’s my pick of 7 top reasons that bring you to a point that you can’t eat after a breakup:
1. Your ‘escape’ mechanism turns on
If you have a stomach ache, you will take medicines/ herbs etc to ‘make the pain go away’. Your body is bio-programmed to ‘escape’ pain; by hook or by crook. And rightly so. If we were designed to live with such extreme pain, we wouldn’t even care about the stomach ache, let alone do anything to treat it. But this would be a threat to our survival.
So, when you are suffering from a broken relationship coupled with intense grief and heartache – the first reaction of your body is to somehow ‘make this pain go away’. Hence, your body turns on its flight mode and this is why you lose your appetite after a breakup.
2. Your digestive system shuts down
You can’t eat after a breakup because you are under immense pain at this juncture. Do you think breaking down food is required at such a time? No!
Your body is trying to RUN.
That means, it requires more energy and power in your legs and hands (escape organs). So other functions, especially digestion, are partially slowed down.
3. Your body’s intelligence kicks in
Believe it or not, your body is more intelligent than you think it is. It works 24 hours x 365 days throughout your life. So it very well knows what to and what not to do! The loss of appetite, while you get over a relationship breakup, is often a result of your body’s awareness that the ‘digestion factory’ for food processing is shut. So why bother?
4. Your body is ready for the pleasure of food
Experiencing a loss of appetite after a breakup? This is also your body’s way of rejecting pleasures, as it is currently in mourning mode. Your mouth is the first organ to receive the food you eat. Along with the enzymes that set in motion the digestion process, the mouth is also a host to taste buds that trigger feelings of pleasure and satiety. To steer clear of this uplifting experience, your mouth is rejecting the whole act of eating and this is why you lose your appetite after a breakup.
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5. Balancing moods
Your moods and hormones are all over the place after a heartbreak. So all that extra energy to make the pain go away is being used for hormone regulation. Although you’re slow and sloppy, your body is still working to soothe & balance itself, which is why you can’t eat with a broken heart.
6. Food equals celebration
And you are in mourning. So the feeling that you can’t eat after a breakup is often associated with the guilt of indulging in gastronomic delights. It is almost making you feel like you should stop celebrating your palette.
Your mind constantly pulls you back to feeling the grief – which is also the starvation state.
7. Finding solace in the loss of appetite
Sometimes, you get stuck in this state where you can’t eat after breakup much longer than the acceptable limit. It becomes the new comfort zone for your mind and body. This is when you continue to lose unusual amounts of weight and slip over to the unhealthier side. Make sure you recognize this pattern and reach out to an expert who can help you recreate your appetite and hunger signals.
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3 Simple Hack to Recover from Loss of Appetite
Is there any food for the heartbreak that can put you right on the track? Well, sadly not. But here’s what you can do to get over a relationship breakup and bounce back from this loss of appetite:
1. Sip on a lot of liquids
If you can’t eat with a broken heart, switch to liquids. Your body will not reject liquids because it gets fooled that you aren’t eating solid foods that are harder to digest. So keep your immunity strong & energy high by drinking lots of herbal teas, lemon, honey concoctions, soups, and stews.
2. Don’t forget to take your supplements
Loss of appetite after a breakup? Maintaining good gut health becomes more imperative now than ever. The happier your gut, the more regulated your moods, the faster your recovery out of this phase where you can’t eat with a broken heart.
3. Go ahead, indulge in what gives you pleasure
Eat your favourite foods (even if they’re sinful). You need all the pleasure to help lift your spirits right now – even if it’s from food that you usually don’t allow yourself. Watch your favourite movies and talk to your friends/ family or get a perspective from a trained expert.
Don’t lose hope, don’t starve yourself, and if the emotions are taking a very strong hold of you, reach out!
I am Ridhi Golehchha, a Mind-Body & Eating Coach. I can help you end your struggles around weight, emotional eating & everyday stressors so that you can stop wasting precious years obsessing about what you should & shouldn’t be eating + free up your energy into living the vibrant life you are here to live.