New semester, new classes, new goals, new clubs, new adventures, you get the point. Change can be an exciting thing, but sometimes change can be rocky. In all of this newness, maybe either you or your significant other decides to split ways. A fresh start for one or both of you. Whatever the reasoning is behind your breakup, heartbreak hurts. 

If you are in the unfortunate group that had this happen to them this year, just know that you are not alone. I know you want to devour your body weight in Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, but give this article a quick read first. I want to tell you the foods that will actually make you feel better in each stage of a breakup, so food can help you recover rather than set you back.

Fresh Wound

apple, sweet
Ashley Dyrhaug

“Hey, we need to talk” lights up your lock screen and your stomach ties itself in a knot. Maybe your significant other does it over the phone or in person. No matter what, you’re shocked, confused, and broken. The breakup is sudden and these are the first two minutes of it sinking in that you are no longer taken.

Eat This

Fish: High in Omega 3 fats, fish is very good for your brain health. These hearty fats lead to the regulation of Dopamine, which is a hormone that regulates mood and affects happiness. Perhaps a fish taco night with your roommates would be a great way to spend your evening.

Bananas: People always link bananas to their potassium benefits, but they also contain Tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that aids in the production of Dopamine. Another plus of bananas is they are easy. Even if you don’t feel like cooking, preparing or even eating, bananas are a good compromise.

Not That

Junk Food: Before you get appalled that ice cream is not acceptable, hear me out. This is not the stage to load up on pounds of chocolate. Your emotions are everywhere and you probably have so many questions. You’ll need your nutrition in this stage to think rationally and reduce anxiety. If eating your feelings is a must, then make sure you also balance it with something substantial.

Alcohol: It’s tempting to want to live it up, drink to forget, or even snag an immediate rebound (make him/her jealous, maybe?). But with feelings this fresh, that might backfire. You are very susceptible to an embarrassing “I still love you” drunk text to your new ex. It’s best to put down the bottle of wine, but if you must hit the club, do yourself a favor and give your phone to your best friend for the night.

Red With Rage

pepper, vegetable
Ashley Dyrhaug

You relate to Carrie Underwood as you belt out “I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive." All of that confusion has turned into rage as you think about everything he or she put you through, lied about, and hurt you with.

Eat This

Red Beets: It’s random, I know, but red beets contain both Betaine and Tyrosine. Betaine can act as a natural anti-depressant, while Tyrosine can stabilize the mind and body. Although betaine may sound like it belongs to another stage, it's important to address this sadness now because behind rage is hurt. To help make them more appealing here is a recipe for beet home fries.

Hot Peppers or Something Spicy: No, I did not pick this because you are burning with rage, but rather spicy food releases endorphins. Endorphins are a feel good chemical that can naturally aid in reducing your anger.

Not That

Processed Sugars: These sugars can cause quick mood spikes and drops. This will cause heightened anger once your sugar “high” wears off. Also, a low blood sugar level has been linked to poor mood regulation. If you want something sweet you’re better off baking some cookies from scratch instead of popping open those Ho-Hos. Also, baking can take your mind off of the break up for a hot second.

Trans Fats: I’m not just trying to rid your life of everything delicious, I promise. There was actually a study done where researchers found that there is a correlation between trans fat consumption and aggression. Although this does not prove causation, it’s probably better to avoid these bad fats as they will not help with coping.

Heavy Sadness

Ashley Dyrhaug

You miss them. The anger has worn off and now all you want to do is lay in bed and cry. There is a piece of your heart that is missing and you don’t know how to bring it back. This is the stage that every chick flick preys on.

Eat This

Pumpkin Seeds: Not getting enough sleep is a factor of depression. Sleeping might be hard while you're up late replaying all of the good moments of your relationship in your head. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, which promotes restful sleep. Getting good sleep will help elevate your mood. 

Greek Yogurt: Jam packed with calcium, it releases feel good neurotransmitters to combat both depression and anxiety. Plus, a pint of frozen yogurt feels like a pint of ice cream, so you can reap all of the benefits while indulging in comfort food.

Not That

Nothing: It sounds strange, but the worst you can eat in this stage is nothing at all. Starving yourself will deprive your body of nutrients that you’ll need once you’re ready to bounce back. Even if it’s hard, try and stomach something small.

Caffeine: Maybe your logic is to drink a few cups of coffee in an attempt to get back on your feet, but it may hurt you more than help you. In a study of college students, they found that moderate to high coffee drinkers scored higher on a depression scale. It’s probably best to put a hold on your caffeine intake or at a minimum, limit it.

Starting to Heal

tea, coffee
Ashley Dyrhaug

Your friends are inviting you to go out, your sister wants you to take her to see that new Pixar movie, and your brother wants you to teach him how to throw a football. You’re starting to get back on your feet and connect with those who love you. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Eat This

Dark Chocolate: The intense cocoa concentration in dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, which can lead to mood elevation and increased concentration. Just a piece will do the trick, but an entire bar will too.

Green Tea: Green tea contains polyphenols, which promote a general sense of well-being. This little push may be all you need to get off the couch and go to a friend’s house. My personal favorite brand of green tea is Bigelow. It’s less earthy than some other versions.

Not That

Foods With Meaning: Maybe it’s that hot dog from the vendor on the street that you had your first kiss on. Or maybe it’s the bottle of wine you both shared on your first date. Even if you think you are finally getting over them, eating something that is attached to a memory could easily make you relapse.

Salty Foods: Sodium is known to hold excessive fluid in the body, which leads to bloating. Heavy bloat will make you want to have a lazy day even if emotionally you are ready to get back out there. Until you are completely out of the woods, try and keep a light hand on the saltshaker.

The Takeaway

sweet, berry
Ashley Dyrhaug

Everyone copes with a breakup differently and will take different timelines to go through these stages. You might even skip a stage or get hung up on one of the middle ones. However you take heartbreak, just know that everything you’re feeling is normal and valid.

In my article, I talk a lot about offsetting or offering a remedy for an emotion. It’s always okay to not want to feel better. Every emotion should be felt and embraced so you can grow from this experience. Wallowing in your sadness or punching a pillow from anger is absolutely okay. Let yourself feel.

Now back to food: these food recommendations are based in science and logic. Breakups are the furthest thing from logic; they are pure emotion. If your mom’s chocolate lava cake always puts a smile on your face or fettuccine alfredo from your favorite Italian place makes you feel better…eat it. You know what makes you feel better better than any scientist ever could. Eating your favorite food is always acceptable.