I want you to picture an extra-large deep dish, deliciously hot barbeque chicken pizza with extra cheese sitting in front of you.
If for some reason you don’t like deep dish barbeque chicken pizza, replace it with your favorite food. Preferably one that smells really good.
Can you see layers upon layers of cheese stacked on top of one another?
Do you smell the sweet tangy goodness from the home-made barbeque sauce?
Is your mouth watering? Do you feel hungry yet?
Or is the thought of food just not doing it for you like it used to?
Maybe it’s making you feel naseuous.
If suddenly no food seems good to eat, know that you are not alone.
There’s a reason why you’re struggling to put down food. And it’s not because your body is
It’s also at least partially related to a bunch of other fun stuff like:
- Your racing heartbeat;
- Your brain not being as sharp as usual;
- Feeling tired all the time;
- Your lifts going down in the gym / decreased sport performance;
- Your clothes fitting looser than normal;
You my friend are not going crazy.
You’re just suffering from what I call the Breakup Fast. It’s a normal part of getting dumped that anywhere from 60-80% of guys I work with experience.
The Breakup Fast is:
The first time I experienced The Breakup Fast, everything went crazy in a hurry.
Maybe you can relate.
As a 20-year-old, I was used to wrecking plate after plate of my University’s delicious food (shoutout to the UMass food staff). I was trying to gain weight at the time, and my bulking strategy was “If it looks like food and it looks good, you should probably stop being such a little bitch and eat it”.
Within a day of getting dumped, my appetite packed up shop and booked a one-way ticket to Timbucktu. Despite my best efforts, I wouldn’t hear from it for over a month and a half.
On good days I would stare at the food on my plate and sort of push it around. On bad days, I just skipped meals altogether.
I was lucky I had UMass to cook for me, otherwise I doubt I would have cooked for myself at all.
Prior to The Breakup Fast, I was gaining about 1.5 pounds a month while running between 30-45 miles a week AND lifting 5-6x a week.
But that came crashing to a halt.
Over a 1 and a half month period I lost almost 10% of my bodyweight at the time (about 15 pounds).
My lifts started to suffer in the gym. I couldn’t run as fast, or for as long. This was on top of feeling lethargic throughout the day. The entire thing made me feel like my life was falling apart.
Watching this all happen made me feel depressed as fuck because I had no idea what to do about it. It was a big, negative cycle.
Dealing with getting dumped is hard enough on it’s own without your body fighting you every time you try to take a bite of food. So today I’m going to help you understand exactly why you feel this way, what you can do to rebuild your appetite, and what you should expect going forward.
The Breakup Fast Explained: Why It’s So Hard To Eat After A Breakup
Your body has a natural alarm system that goes off whenever you come face to face with a perceived threat, like a large dog barking at you, or the IRS unexpectedly sending you mail.
This natural alarm system (called the hypothalamus) triggers a combination of nerve and hormonal signals which tell the adrenal glands on your kidneys to release a surge of hormones – including adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate and blood pressure which is why you feel like your heart is racing. Cortisol changes your immune function and suppresses the digestive system. This system also communicates with other regions in the brain that control your motivation, your mood, and how you experience fear.
When you’re pumped full of this potent chemical cocktail, your body is in survival mode, otherwise known as fight or flight. Your hunger is suppressed and your digestive system slows way down.
Your body is preparing you to fight that barking dog, or take a flight out of the country to avoid the IRS. Food is not an immediate priority.
When you get dumped, your body goes into survival mode and your hunger goes away with it. That’s what the Breakup Fast really is. It’s your body getting pumped full of adrenaline and cortisil, which are tanking your hunger.
So the next time you take a look at that deep dish BBQ chicken pizza and don’t want to eat it, just remember that it’s not your fault. It’s just your hormones wilding out. You will go back to normal if you give it enough time and use the strategies I’m about to overview.
When Every Day Becomes Fight Or Flight
Your body’s alarm system usually keeps itself under control. Once the perceived threat is gone, your hormone levels return to normal. As cortisol and adrenaline both go down, your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal, and your digestive system and hunger start working normally again.
But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, your alarm system turns on.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at risk of health problems, like:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
In other words, if you want your hunger to come back you need to remove the stressors from your life. And right now, you have control over your two biggest stressors: your ex-girlfriend and yourself. For more help with getting these under control, click the button below. It will take you to an archive of my most important articles.
Breaking The Breakup Fast: How To Start Eating Again
There are two stages to approaching this problem – the short term and the long term. In the short term, you need to focus on getting the nutrients your body needs to survive so that you don’t feel like lethargic garbage.
In the long term, you need to get out of the fight or flight mode that’s keeping you overexposed to cortisol and what it does to your body.
In The Short Term – Use These Tricks
- Keep your regular meal times! Don’t break the routine of eating. I can speak from experience here, it’s a lot easier to keep a habit going than it is to rebuild it. If you were having 3 meals a day before the breakup, try to keep the same meal times. Even if you don’t eat more than a few bites, keeping the routine and structure will help you return to normal over time.
- Snack! Small, tasty snacks throughout the day. Keep them on you. For me, that meant those little bite-sized blueberry muffins you could get from WalMart, or the Velveeta Mac & Cheese little microwavable things. I also ate a looooot of Wendy’s Double Stacks. 4th meal might normally be frowned upon, but if you want a Crunch Wrap supreme, you get one.
- Eat anything you want, whether or not it’s healthy. In a perfect world, you’d be eating clean, but it’s not a perfect world now is it? If you’re struggling to eat, just eat. Keep it as low-friction as possible. The quicker and easier it is, the better. Don’t be picky about what. You can focus on clean eating in the long term.
- Drink plenty of water but not before your regular mealtime! Drinking a lot of water will keep you hydrated which has a number of benefits – but try to avoid it in the 30 minutes prior to when your scheduled mealtime is. Drinking right before you eat will reduce your appetite.
- Liquid meals like smoothies, soups, and protein shakes are a great way to add extra calories.
- Add oils to anything you cook – olive oil, coconut oil, etc. They add taste and extra calories without taking up too much room in your stomach. Be careful not to overdo it though, oils can make you sick.
- Don’t eat a ton of fiber – fiber fills you up but doesn’t add a ton of calories.
- Eat socially – one of my biggest hacks is to eat with friends. Eating with friends while you’re talking and enjoying yourself can help you put down some calories because you won’t be focusing on the food.
In The Long Term, It’s About Getting Control Of Your Life
Long term is more about getting yourself out of the “fight of flight” response. To do that you’ll need to:
- Go no-contact. I can’t overstate how important this is for your mood. The less you talk to her, the less you’re going to worry about what she’s doing.
- Treat your ex-girlfriend addiction
- Learn to journal about how you’re feeling to put things into perspective
- Get off social media. You don’t need to see what she’s doing. Only what you are doing matters.
- Start dating other women – even if it’s very casual. Knowing that other women find you attractive can help boost your self esteem.
- Begin working exercise back into your routine – HIIT and weights
How Long Will It Take For Your Hunger To Return To Normal?
For most guys I work with, it takes somewhere between 3-6 weeks on average, but I have had cases where it has gone longer.
I’ve seen a number of sources claim the Breakup Fast lasts anywhere from between 1-10 days. Personally, I don’t think that’s an accurate estimate.
In my experience, it may take up to 3 months for your appetite to fully return to normal. If you’re continously on an up and down emotional rollercoaster with your ex-girlfriend, it’s going to take longer.
The most important thing to understand is that this is a marathon and not a sprint.
Don’t compare your results to what you hear on the internet – your journey is your own. Use the structure I’ve provided to start eating small meals again and slowly build back up over time.
In my experience the more you can do to get yourself out of the fight or flight state, the faster your appeite will return.
So be patient. You’re not broken. Your hunger will come back.
You’ve got this.
If you need more help breaking your Breakup Fast, click here to get my help.