Your significant other just broke up with you. And so you do as any normal heartbroken person of unsound mind would and dial up your old friend, the pizza delivery man; dig into endless pints of cookie dough ice cream; and put your local barbecue joint on notice just in case.
If that’s you post-heartbreak, you’re not alone in deciding to eat your feelings: turns out, it’s a fairly common phenomenon to experience a change in eating habits when dealing with relationship issues, and according to at least one dietician, it’s even okay to indulge in a few foods normally on the diet “don’t” list. The key, says NJ-based dietician Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, and author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, is to choose healthier options of your favorite indulgences. Lucky for you (and your waistline), she’s got a few healthier suggestions to go along with her seven mood-boosting food recommendations.
Who knew cheese is a source of tryptophan, that amino acid most commonly associated with the “turkey coma” that tends to follow Thanksgiving dinner? Palinski-Wade did, and therefore puts pizza on her list of mood-boosting bites to eat during a breakup. “[Cheese] can have a calming impact on mood,” she says. Of course, being a dietician, she recommends selecting a pizza made with a whole grain crust and topped with veggies. “It makes for a more nutritious mood stabilizer,” she says. Or you could skip the crust entirely and try her “incredibly easy" cauliflower pizza recipe, which still has plenty of cheese. “At just 68 calories per slice, you can eat the whole thing without regretting it later!”
2. Strawberries (Especially Ones Dipped in Chocolate!)
Stressed out? Of course you are, you just got dumped! What to do? Keep calm and eat strawberries, which are rich in vitamin C. “Research has shown that high levels of vitamin C in the body can help stress hormones return to normal faster after a stressful situation,” Palinski-Wade says, adding that it’s even OK to dip them in some serotonin-boosting dark chocolate for an extra shot of happiness.
3. A Hot Dog With Sauerkraut
The key mood-boosting ingredient here isn't the processed meat, it's the fermented cabbage. “Research suggests that probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut can have a positive impact on mood and fight against anxiety and depression,” Palinski-Wade says. Getting to indulge in some mystery meat is just an added bonus.
With more time on your hands comes more mindless munching, so Palinski-Wade suggests having some air-popped popcorn handy. “Not only can you eat three cups for less than 100 calories, but the fiber content can stabilize blood sugar levels helping to prevent mood swings,” she says. “In addition, the rich source of carbohydrates can trigger a release of the ‘happy chemical’ serotonin.” (Ah, carbs. At least they will never leave you.)
If you’re having trouble sleeping post-breakup, reach for a bowl of fresh or frozen cherries before bed, Palinski-Wade says. “As a rich source of melatonin, they may help you to sleep better and feel more refreshed the next day.”
Looking for something to punch—er, crunch? Munch on pistachios, particularly the ones still in the shell, which make you work for it. (Just like that selfish, cold-hearted lover who you always knew deep down would break your heart.) “Not only do these tasty nuts satisfy the desire to crunch, but the leftover shells serve as a mindful reminder of how much you have eaten, preventing post-breakup snack binges,” says Palinski-Wade. Plus, pistachios are a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, which can cut down on cravings throughout the day.
7. Ice Cream (Well, Almost…)
Unlike your last lover, we want to be upfront with you: Palinski-Wade is suggesting frozen Greek yogurt. “The added sugars and saturated fat [of traditional ice cream] can worsen your mood and energy levels, so swapping the ice cream for frozen Greek yogurt increases the protein and probiotic levels, which research has shown have a positive impact on mood and depression,” she says.
Got an ex? Yeah, we all do. Bravo’s Personal Space is diving into everything there is to discuss about breakups, from the ones that got away to ghosting to what the hell you should do with an ex on social media with Ex-Files Week. It’s all leading up to our new series A Night With My Ex, which explores what happens when former couples reunite…for one night only. Check back each day for exclusive interviews, personal stories, and don’t forget to catch the premiere on Tuesday, July 18 at 10/9c.
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