Words – Olivia Harvey
From the editors of HelloGiggles
After a non-mutual break-up, your best friend brings over a tub of ice cream and bags upon bags of crisps. But while you’re sitting among hoards of food, you may notice you don’t want to eat any of it. That’s because according to one study, we actually lose our appetites post-break-up.
Dutch writer Iris Bouwmeester wrote an article for Vice’s Munchies platform about the science behind lost appetites due to heartbreak. She talked to Professor of neurobiology, Gert ter Horst, to find some answers.
Ter Horst said that lost love creates stress, and stress increases our heart rate and levels of cortisol and adrenaline. This leads to sleepless nights and a stomach that doesn’t want food.
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While dealing with a break-up your body is so stressed that it goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, which means eating is at the bottom of its priority list. On top of that, ter Horst noted that emotional imbalance also affects appetite.
He explained: ‘The areas of the brain in charge of emotions and emotional pain also [regulate] how we eat, our need for food, and what we taste. The areas that take care of these functions are close together, and can influence one another.’
But once your body has moved passed survival mode and your appetite has come back, you’re likely going to start craving fattier foods (aka, junk food) to make up for the calories lost while you weren’t eating.
Bouwmeester talked to therapist, Leonoor van der Sloot, who explained that emotional eaters are trying to replace the lost oxytocin that was released while in the loving relationship with foods that make them happy.
At this stage, it’s time to call in your friend with the ice cream and crisps!
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Women are apparently much more likely to suffer from loss of appetite post-break-up than men, although everyone reacts to stress and break-ups differently.
So don’t worry: if you’re struggling with eating after a break-up, it’s completely normal. But we recommend you get the snacks ready for the big binge coming up in the near future.
Maybe call some friends to help you eat your feelings, too?