How to Eat for a Break-Up (or After a Bad Date)

Emily walks into my office. Her eyes are rimmed red. Her usual exuberance is hidden under a layer of sadness. She takes a seat and breathes deeply. Her bottom lip quivers and she says, “I’m so scared, Dana. I know this is the right thing to do but I’ve been with him for so long, I don’t know how to be on my own.” Emily has just made the courageous decision to leave her husband. While their relationship is pleasant, their intimacy evaporated many years ago. I’m reminded of Germaine Greer’s quote, “Many a housewife staring at the back of her husband’s newspaper, or listening to his breathing in bed, is lonelier than a spinster in a rented room.

I reach out for Emily’s arm and say, “Emily, it’s better to be on your own than half of the woman you are destined to be.” She nods, and puts her head on the table. Her eyes peer up, and she says “but it’s worse than that. I’m eating like a crazy woman. I know exactly what to eat (thank you for teaching me that) but I seem to have no power over food. I’m eating M&M’s, popcorn and ice-cream, you know, stuff I’d never eat. I need help!!! Tell me how to break this?”.

It’s a plea. Emily wants substitutions but they won’t appease her pain. Right now she’s experiencing grief and loss. Grief that her marriage hasn’t worked and loss of the husband-and-wife dream. I can feel the heaviness in her body. I ask her where she feels it. She says, “the lower part of my belly, under my navel”. This area represents the first chakra and she’s just given me the first clue as to why she’s eating junk food.

The first chakra represents survival, safety, and protection. The break-up was tripping this. I continue to inquire. She concedes that she is financially scared; scared that she’d have to move into a place of poverty to stay in New York City. This was more of a story than a reality. She is a successful banker and she wasn’t going to be shuttled off to the projects because her marriage had dissolved. I asked her to take pen to paper and write about her fears when she wanted to eat. I suggested she do three things:

1. Write down her exact fears are.

2. Scan them for validity and other times she may have experienced this.

3. Create a visual dream for her new single life – what would it look like at its ultimate and what would it feel like.

This activity was going to take some time and would serve as a wise distraction to help break the anxiety-eating cycle she had created.

I wanted her to look at the insights from her journalling before she simply used healthier food choices to suppress the emotion she was experiencing. Then I gave her food substitutions.

Below are some of the snack foods I recommended to Emily to help ground her, re-balance her first chakra, and soothe her broken heart. I also suggested she eat this in a pretty environment – on a plate, with a napkin, and with soft music playing.

Feel-good break-up foods

1. Strawberry smoothie made with coconut milk and mint

2. Raw cacao goji berry balls

3. Brazil nuts with dried strawberries and coconut flakes

4. Radish and apple salad with fresh mint

5. Matcha tea almond latte

6. Coconut macaroon dipped in chocolate

7. Green tea avocado popsicle

8. Sip on sweet rose tea with raw honey such as Tulsi Sweet Rose Tea

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