The Post-Breakup Eating Pattern is Strange, But Normal

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Have you noticed how heartbreaks are associated with loss in appetites and binge-eating? Science can explain this quirky post-breakup eating pattern.


Post-Breakup Eating Pattern Explained

So, what’s the connection between having a broken heart and losing your appetite? Munchies talked to Gert ter Horst, Professor of Neurobiology, who explained the physical responses to heartbreaks.


“Loss of love creates quite a bit of stress. So, all the responses that go along with long-term stress manifest themselves after heartbreak. Think about a higher heart rate, and increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline. This, in turn, leads to both sleepless nights, and a stomach that rumbles but simultaneously rejects food.


We see something similar [happening] with activities like cycling and running. Cyclists need to eat a lot, but it’s difficult for them [to do so]. They physically can’t. Similar to being in a stressful situation, the level of adrenaline and heart rate both go up during excessive activity. Because of that, it’s almost impossible to get food down your throat.”


In addition to the physical responses to stress caused by a failed relationship, one’s emotions are also overwhelming. These, in turn, result to the loss of appetite followed by the cravings.


“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. Because you’re in a state of stress, you need more calories. That makes it easier to choose junk food over healthier foods.”


Learning about the reasons behind the strange post-breakup eating pattern is very useful, especially when one has a lot of girlfriends who might be dealing with difficult relationships. Indeed, the next time you question why your heartbroken friend has a very fickle diet, you might want to consider these reasons before you pass on any judgment.

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