Emotional eating affects many people around the world — and a tough break-up can lead to unhealthy binges. In fact, some people eat more when they are sad, anxious, grieving, and depressed. But the beauty industry doesn’t make things any easier.
Did you know that female editorial models are generally at least 5 feet, 9 inches tall with a 33-inch bust, 23-inch waist, and 33-inch hips? These are pretty “thin” standards that don’t seem realistic for many women (even when they’re following a strict dietary regimen).
But the modeling industry is tough and even tougher on the models. These are by no means reasonable beauty standards. Instead, it sets in motion a spiral of negative self-image issues that tend to affect more women than men.
Understanding Emotional Eating
Emotional eating stems from a deeper problem. For some people, it might be grieving process after losing a friend or a loved one. For others, it might be higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. All these feelings cause an influx of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can actually stimulate hunger.
Food has a way of making us feel better. When we’re eating, our bodies release “feel-happy” or “feel-better” hormones like serotonin. It explains why eating can sometimes make all those sad feelings vanish. So it’s no wonder we chase after that feeling after a traumatic event like a breakup. But when emotional eating becomes a habit, it can lead to physical and emotional issues like weight gain, clogged pores, poor sleep, low energy, and more.
When we’re upset, we tend to crave non-nutritious foods as a means of coping. Greasy, sugary, and processed foods tend to be high on our crave list when we’re looking to feel better. This is why the break-up diet leads to so many additional problems and health concerns.
Sometimes it’s not just a breakup from your long-term significant other. With nearly half of American marriages ending in divorce, you might struggle with emotional eating following the dissolution of your partnership. Now, it’s not just the raging fights and problems that come with a break up, but also low self-esteem and questioning one’s self-worth. But even a falling out with a friend or family member can lead to emotional eating if we lack other healthy coping skills. And since we often see in the media that people, especially women, turn to food after a breakup, we tend to normalize this behavior — even when it makes us feel even lousier.
How to Avoid Emotional Eating After a Breakup
We know that emotional eating is a way to numb what we’re really feeling inside while giving us a sense of indulgence. But what can you do to get back on track or to avoid this cycle? Try some of these ideas below.
Celebrate the non-scale victories
It’s easy to get caught up in the “revenge body” fantasy or to equate your worth to the number on the scale. But try to see beyond weight loss goals here and focus on celebrating other aspects of nutritious eating. If you no longer crave fast foods, have been drinking more water, feel more energized, or have been getting better sleep than you’ve had in years, take time to celebrate those things! Rather than obsessively weighing yourself or counting every calorie, take this opportunity to listen to your body and assess how your eating makes you feel. If you know that your current diet is making you feel sluggish or is driving your self-confidence even lower, celebrate that realization and the choice to make small changes to improve your lifestyle.
Add fiber into your diet
With insufficient fiber in our diets, we may feel bloated and grumpy. Our sleep schedule might even become disrupted. Scientifically, your gut is connected to your brain; when you keep your gut healthy, your mental wellness becomes healthy, too. You can get fiber in fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Drink more water
Water works wonderfully to help feel full. So while you’re eating a balanced and nutritious diet, don’t forget to have water. Cells, muscles, and tissue need water to function and the human body is made up of more water than blood. Your skin will start to glow and you’ll be able to flush out toxins more easily.
Avoid too much sugar
Sugar is okay in moderation, of course. But just like caffeine, sugar in excess can lead to undesirable effects. You might find that cutting down on your sugar intake can help your skin, your energy levels, and other aspects of your health.
Although there is some progress now compared to a few years ago, it’s unfortunate that our media tends to portray the image of perfection is that of a super-skinny person. Women preparing for their big wedding day are always on serious diets. Every year, an average of 2.4 million weddings are performed in the United States — but just because you might not be in this category, it doesn’t mean you’re not worth it. Be kind to yourself and celebrate the little things in life. By embracing a nutritious diet during a difficult time, you’ll have an easier time healing your heart.