Ice cream, pizza and cake: Why we reach for comfort food after a bad breakup

Breakups can cause different reactions for everyone — from tears to anger or the largest pair of sweatpants you own. No heartbreak is complete, however, without the iconic breakup diet. 

Elle Woods throws chocolate at her TV after a bad breakup in Legally Blonde. Bridget Jones clings to a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tub while wrapped in a blanket in The Edge of Reason after her breakup with Mark Darcy. 

Using food as a source of comfort in times of grief is common, said Toronto-based food blogger Laura Keogh, especially if you’re hurting. 

“When you go through heartache, you need something comforting. Obviously, we turn to food,” Keogh told hosts on Global News’ The Morning Show

A 2017 survey by market research firm OnePoll research and Yelp Eat 24 found that two-thirds of people have a specific comfort food they rely on when they are upset. Ice cream was the most popular choice followed by pizza, fried foods and cake. 

The study found those dishes are most needed in the first five weeks following a breakup, when despair is usually at its height. 

While “emotional eating” has been stigmatized as bad or poor behaviour, eating in response to your emotions is fairly normal and often harmless, New York-based dietitian Christy Harrison told The Washington Post.

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