Break-up diet: Six healthy ways to get rid of heart ache!

Published: December 17, 2013
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We have all devoured countless bars of chocolate and tonnes of ice cream tubs in an effort to lessen the throbbing pain in an attempt to fill the emptiness inside. PHOTO: REUTERS

Heart break is as fundamental to life as breathing.

We are all born, learn to walk, laugh, cry and eventually get our heart broken. To get over a broken heart and move on, what we need is a supportive shoulder, a patient listener and most importantly — food.

In my work as a nutritionist, I have come across a term called ‘Break-up Diet’. This is a diet that almost everyone follows at one time or another. We have all devoured countless bars of chocolate and tonnes of ice cream tubs in an effort to lessen the throbbing pain in an attempt to fill the emptiness inside.

And yes, it does help to lift our spirits and boost our moods, but only for a brief period of time.

More often than not, what follows is immense guilt for consuming all those extra calories and straying away from our dietary regime.

We gorge down creamy pastries, rich chocolate soufflés and extra cheesy pizzas, all the while wondering where we went wrong and what we could have done to avoid the heart-break and pain.

Of course, the immediate gratification from those yummy snacks is followed by self-bashing at being weak enough to give in and gaining those extra pounds.

As much as we hate listening to reasoning and receiving advice about calorie count and healthy diet when you are down-in-the-dumps, there are actually some foods that are healthy and nutritious enough to be eaten without feeling guilty afterwards and yet, work wonders for the mood.

Here are six of my favourite tips to avoid break-up fat:

1. Fish

Yes, you got it right. Something as light and healthy as fish can also be a mood-lifter and get you out of that ‘nothing-ever-works-out-for-me’ feeling.

Basically, fish contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids which are super healthy for your brain and boost your spirits. Fish is also a rich source of lean protein and low in cholesterol.

Enjoy some grilled salmon in winter. Photo: File

In Pakistan, fish has always been considered to be a ‘winter food’ and is usually consumed in the  months containing the letter ‘r’, that is, the months from September to April.

Considering you have half the year to be able to consume this healthy alternative, get off that couch, go to the market and buy some fresh fish! Make yourself a tuna sandwich or make some traditional fish pakoras and enjoy your newfound comfort food. Do make sure to use canola or olive oil if you fry the fish to make this meal as healthy as possible.

2. Dates

Dates are one of those splendid foods that are good for almost anything and everything. They are rich in potassium which helps make your nerves strong and flexible. Research results show that daily consumption of dates early in the morning helps reduce depression and improves brain function and memory.

Do not miss out on this splendid ‘brain food’. Photo: File

So, include this ‘brain food’ in your morning smoothies, sprinkle some on your cereal or throw a few in while your mom is making siwaiyyaan and winter halwas. Better yet, eat them raw and savour the natural sweetness.

After the break-up, ‘brain food’ is probably what you need most! Be sure to share these with your grandmother as these will do wonders for her strength and digestion too.

3. Carbs

Carbohydrates are perhaps, the most instant mood-enhancers that can be found. Carbs are the reason you crave that piece of cake while crying your eyes out. When sugar is converted into glucose, it releases serotonin and instantly energises your brain making you feel fresh and alert; and that crack in your heart seems to fill up just a little with every bite you take of those refined sugary treats.

Of course, these sugary treats also, stubbornly, fill up other parts of your body.

There is of course, a healthier and more filling alternative.

Instead of gorging down that whole cake, eat a home-cooked chapaati with some yummy daal. Or better yet, ask your mom to cook her famous chicken biryani for you to give you the perfect balance of carbs, proteins and just the amount of extra oil to lift your mood, give you energy and fill your stomach to last you a marathon!

Yes, the alternative I proposed is biryani! It may stick, but it definitely isn’t as sticky as that molten chocolate cake.

Ask your mother to make some chicken biryani to chase away the glooms with those carbs. Photo:File

4. Eggs and milk

Eggs and milk are both, rich in protein, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D, and act as the perfect mood enhancers.

Eggs are the perfect, healthy mood-lifters. Photo: AFP

So the next time you are a step away from ordering a commercial milkshake to boost your spirits, get up and make yourself a glass of eggnog. The caloric count may be high but so are the other nutrients.

5. The magical drink – water

Water is the most underrated drink if you are depressed.

Drinking water just does not seem important, does it?

However, it is a well-known fact that a bout of sadness and emptiness can simply be a symptom of dehydration. What’s more is that all those lattes, mochas and coffees can actually dehydrate you!

Drink away the blues with water. Photo: AFP

So distressed or not, take a minute to drink a glass of crystal clear H2O. It will definitely calm you down and make that despair go away.

6. Exercise

Any form of physical exertion that increases your heartbeat helps release your happy hormones and makes you feel lighter.

Any physical exertion can help make you feel better. Photo: AFP

Even if you cannot do a strenuous work-out, simply go for a 15-minute walk around the block and you will definitely feel invigorated and calm.

So, if you have been through one of those heart wrenching break-ups or just had a bad day, keep these healthy alternatives in mind; after all, the last thing you want is depression over heart-break and then a kick from your gym instructor!

Keep it healthy, try them out and let me know how you feel.

Reema Arshad

Reema Arshad

An inspiring nutritionist vowing to change perspectives about food and health. Currently working as a Nutritionist In Children Hospital Complex Multan and founder/consultant at Nutrilife. She tweets @reemaarshad (twitter.com/reemaarshad)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.