Most people don’t choose to go on the heartbreak diet. Break up weight loss just happens after a split. But is it really healthy? And can you hope to or expect to keep the pounds off? Experts weigh in on why the heartbreak diet works and what you should do when you slim down.
Why Break-Up Weight Loss Happens
To find out why we often lose weight after a breakup or divorce, we went to stress experts Dr. Dan Guerra and Dr. Dana Gionta. These New York City psychologists recently teamed up to write From Stressed To Centered: A Practical Guide To A Healthier And Happier You. They explained how psychological stress can create a physical change in your body.
“The truth is that some people lose weight during stress and others gain weight,” says Dan. “This relates to different types of metabolisms across individuals and it also relates to how we process stress, psychologically.”
According to Dana, grief and depression can slow the metabolism of the body, so we require less food. Alternatively, she says that our anxiety levels may become significantly heightened and that can cause symptoms in the body, “especially in the digestive, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems.” Both experts say that the psychological and physical changes that occur during a breakup can easily result in changes to your regular eating habits——–either a reduced appetite or avoidance of eating altogether.
Should You Maintain Break up Weight Loss?
So if you slim down during a heartbreak diet, is it reasonable to keep the weight off as you build a new single life? The answer depends on a few factors including your health and your own feelings about your weight.
Dana explains that if you had wanted to lose weight prior to the breakup and the split caused you to slim down, you may be motivated to maintain the lifestyle habits necessary for your thinner body. But she adds that if you were previously happy with your weight and you slimmed down as a result of stress, it’s likely that you’ll return to your normal eating habits when you rebuild your life and your weight will rebound as well.
It’s also important to get expert advice about the best healthy weight for you, says Dan. “I recommend consulting a physician and/or nutritional expert to assess what weight level is optimal for you.”
How to Keep a Slimmer Post-Breakup Body
If your new weight is healthy and you’re motivated to keep the pounds from coming back, there are a few lifestyle tips that Dan and Dana recommend to keep your body in great shape as you transition into your new single life.
- Be (reasonably) selfish. Your split will give you more time to focus on yourself and your new healthy habits. “See this as an opportunity for a new you!” says Dan. “It was likely tough to end your relationship, but with this extra weight that has come off, you may have more confidence and better health as you enter a new one in the future.” He suggests that you take time to work out. “Moderate exercise will keep you looking great while also stimulating the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine so you can keep those emotions at healthy levels too.”
- Pay attention to patterns. Be mindful of your new eating patterns so that you can evaluate how they affect your new weight. Dana says that this will help you to determine what works best for you to maintain your new weight. “Some people weigh themselves daily to determine the effects of certain foods, portion size and meal times on their weight. For others, two to three times a week may work best,” she says.
- Eat healthy meals and snacks. During stressful times, good nutrition is essential. “Do your best to eat close to 6 am, 12 noon and 6 pm, with smaller healthy snacks between those times,” says Dana. She adds that it’s also important to consume enough protein during this transitional phase.
- Rest. “Get sufficient sleep,” says Dana, “at least 7-8 hours each night. This will help moderate cravings for carbohydrates and sugar, often heightened by lack of energy from poor or insufficient sleep.”
Remember that since stress can affect your body in different ways, your weight may fluctuate during and after your split. Your break-up weight loss may be followed by a period of break-up weight gain after the heartbreak diet is done. Take mindful steps to stay healthy during the transition so that you move forward into your new life with improved confidence and a strong, fit body.