Picture this: Things are going great with your hot, ambitious, amazing and loving boyfriend.
You already have a perfect picture in your head of the rest of your lives together. You'll have the most awesome wedding ever, the cutest, smartest kids, a really well-decorated house with a white picket fence and you'll love each other more with each passing year.
One day, though, you get a text saying he needs to talk. Can you come over right after work? Your stomach drops. But it can't be, can it? He's not really going to break up with you. Things are going so well!
Then -- surprise! -- he dumps you that very night. It's not you, though, it's him. Blah, blah, blah.
You feel like your heart's been ripped out of your chest, you haven't showered or slept in four days and your best friend is worried about getting fired because she spends half her day sending you consoling texts.
Oh, and you've lost five pounds this week because the very thought of food makes you want to barf.
While some of us head straight for the cupcakes in the midst of heartbreak, many of us find ourselves with little or no appetite in the days, weeks and months following a breakup.
So, why does this so-called "breakup diet" happen? Here's the scoop.
Heartbreak actually causes physical pain.
There's no doubt about it: Breakups are really, really tough.
In fact, one small study conducted out of Rutgers University found people with broken hearts and people going through cocaine withdrawal have similar brain activity. How terrifying is that?!
And as part of a 2011 study about social rejection, participants were shown photos of exes who had broken up with them. The part of the brain associated with pain lit up, suggesting breakups may actually be physically painful.
Think about how physical pain affects your body. It stops you from sleeping, affects your heart rate and messes with your appetite. It only makes sense these same things happen after a painful breakup.
Right after a breakup, your heart feels connected to your stomach.
We all experience this loss-of-appetite thing in different ways. Some people find themselves only able to stomach certain (often strange) foods while others can't eat anything at all.
Here's how relationship coach Marina Pearson explains what happens in the body after a breakup to YourTango:
The first thing the body does is to create more adrenaline, which flows into the body; this increases our cortisol levels. Too much cortisol in the body on an ongoing basis can lead to sustained elevations of blood sugar, substantial loss of calcium from bones, depression of important immune responses, high blood pressure, loss of muscle mass, increased fat accumulation, and even loss of cognitive function. In short, it affects our immune system, and as our immune system is in the gut, is there any wonder that your appetite is affected by a breakup?
Life Coach Debra Smouse adds when we experience heartbreak, it's almost like our stomachs and hearts are connected.
It's as if ... any food crossing our lips sends us into physical pain. We're unable to swallow. We force ourselves to eat something, and it immediately comes back up. Though we aren't quite ready to feel healing and hope, we don't desire to feel any more pain, so we abstain from eating.
Are you finally understanding why you could only eat chicken noodle soup in the month following your last breakup?
Plus, heartbreak leads to massive amounts of anxiety.
Ever noticed how when you're really stressed out you either want to eat everything in sight or nothing at all?
Greatist breaks down this phenomenon, explaining when we experience the kind of stress that leads to a spike of anxiety, our bodies release adrenaline and we get a burst of energy that slows down processes in our body, like digestion, making us feel less hungry.
There's no question breaking up is hard to do, and your appetite can definitely take a hit when it happens. But nourishing your body is crucial to the healing process, so try to get back on the eating bandwagon as soon as possible.
Be warned, though -- you won't be doing yourself any favors if you emotional eat, either!