If a breakup can cause a loss of appetite, this difficult period is also likely to favor excessive snacking according to a received idea. But researchers at Penn State Harrisburg University (USA) have published a study claiming that the habit is unusual, or at least that its impact is not as great as you might think. Thus, humans would have little tendency to compensate for their heartache through excessive gluttony. and therefore to to gain weight thereafter. “While it’s possible for people to drown their grief in ice cream for a day or two, they don’t tend to gain weight after a break-up,” the researchers say.
According to these, it has been well established that people sometimes use food to cope with negative feelings and that this “Emotional eating” can lead to poor food choices. Because breakups can be stressful, they can trigger this type of overweight behavior. The researchers, therefore, carried out two studies to verify this theory. In the first case, they recruited 581 people who were to complete an online survey to find out if they had recently went through a break and whether they had gained or lost weight in the following year. Most participants (62.7%) reported no change.
The “emotional eaters” are most at risk
Surprised by these results, they decided to carry out an additional study with 261 new participants who had to answer different questions, more complete than those used for the first study. The new survey asked again if participants had ever experienced a breakup after a long relationship and if they had gained or lost weight afterward. But these questions also concerned their attitudes towards their ex-partner, the degree of commitment of the relationship, the origin of the breakup, whether the participants had a habit or not. of to eat emotionally and how much they enjoyed the food in general.
Although all participants reported having experienced a breakup at some point in their life, the majority (65.13%) did not report any weight change after the relationship ends. “We were surprised to find in the two studies, which included large samples of people, no evidence of this phenomenon. The only thing we noticed in the second study is that women who already had trendto eat emotionally were gaining weight after a breakup. But it was not frequent, ”explains Prof. Maria Harrison, lead author of the study, for whom these results may have clinical implications.
She adds, “This could be useful information for clinicians whose patients tend to eat with emotion. If your patient is going through a break-up and already has emotional eating, this may be a time when they need extra support. The study published in the Journal of Evolutionary Studies Consortium however, hypothesizes that this habit was adopted thousands of years ago but for a completely different reason. “Food was much rarer in prehistoric times, so if your partner abandoned you, it could have made collecting food much more difficult. It made sense to amass it after a breakup. “