5 Tips to Avoid Break-Up Weight Gain

Everyone knows digging into a carton of ice cream or polishing off a bag of cookies spells contentment—even if it's fleeting. And sure, after a traumatic breakup, turning to food for solace seems like a great solution. But, it's not.

Nothing terrible will happen to your figure if you spend a night or two indulging in your favorite comfort foods. But unfortunately, if you get into the habit of noshing as a way to numb the pain of a breakup, you may be horrified the next time you hop on the scale.

Here's how to prevent post breakup weight gain:

1. If you feel like you simply must splurge, get out of the house for your splurge, says Erin Palinski, RD, owner and founder of the Vernon Nutrition Center in Franklin, New Jersey. You'll eat much less ice cream if you have to drive to the local ice cream shop to buy it than if you bring home an entire carton. "Once you've finished, it's gone and you can't eat any more," Palinski says. "The same thing works with pastries. Buy just one or two, and you won't be tempted to stay up all night eating a boxful."

2. Try burning calories instead of ingesting them. The post break-up period is when people go crazy for rich, fattening comfort foods, not raw fruits and vegetables, Palinski says. "When you eat simple sugar and carbs, your body releases more serotonin, which makes you feel good and gives you a mood burst," she explains. But the good mood is short-lived, and invariably you feel worse afterwards. So don't go that route. "Even if it is painful, force yourself to go out and be social," Palinski says. "You aren't going to feel good about yourself after a gallon of ice cream, so you may as well go out."

3. Try to avoid simple carbohydrates. After a breakup, people tend to eat carbs because they go down so easily and make you feel good, agrees Jean Cirillo, Ph.D., practicing psychologist and author of The Soul Mate's Nest: How to Find True Love without Compromising. "High carb foods stimulate the production of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone," she explains. "You want carbs because you are experiencing a drop in oxytocin after the breakup. You aren't getting the sex, the cuddling, the relaxed feeling of being with the person you have been so attached to."  A great substitute, your body figures, is to binge on carbs.

4. Eat balanced meals. But if you really can't help but give in to cravings, go for some lower-calorie alternatives. Melt a little dark chocolate over fruit, order pizza with a scant amount of cheese and a lot of vegetables and, if you are having alcohol, cut white wine with club soda for a spritzer. If you're going for the hard stuff, avoid sugary mixers, and use diet soda as a mixer instead.

5. Don't give in to lethargy. Put some aerobic exercise into your life and you'll get the same feel-good effect as you do by eating "comfort food" carbs. "Intense physical activity gives the same good feelings," Cirillo says. So find something you like to do, whether it's swimming, tennis lessons, or biking through the park. Make time in your day for exercise, and you will be surprised at how much better you feel. And who knows? On your walk or jog, you may even meet an interesting new guy.