The 'divorce diet' melts off pounds
03:19 PM CDT on Monday, October 6, 2008
By MARY JACOBS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
All your other attempts to lose weight have failed? Never mind. We're here to tell you about one of the fastest and most foolproof diets around. No calorie counting, no self-discipline required. And the results? Almost too good to be true. Listen to these testimonials:"I lost 20 pounds in six days."
"I lost 31 pounds in 28 days, and another 35 pounds in the next two months."
"You can go three days on four pretzels, some soda and some water, and you're not hungry."
It's the "divorce diet," a phenomenon known all too well to survivors of painful breakups: the tendency to lose a lot of weight, quickly, while going through a divorce.
And no, we're not talking about the 170 pounds you just dumped from your life. We're talking about the pounds that melt away like butter on a hot day, while your heart breaks into a million pieces.
Yes, this diet works. But nobody will tell you it's easy.
While occupying a prominent place in the pop lexicon – Google "divorce diet" and you'll get almost 8,000 hits – you won't find the term in any medical textbook, yet. However, doctors do have theories about why the soon-to-be-divorced tend to lose weight so quickly.
Stressing off pounds
"There's no magic in it," says James Harris, a psychologist and manager of the Eating Disorders Program at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. "A person going through a trauma, like divorce, is often burning more calories and eating less calories, and that makes the weight come off quickly."
"Divorce is toward the top of the list of the most stressful life events," says Daniela Schreier, an assistant professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. "It's second only to death; in many ways, divorce is a death – the death of a dream, of a relationship, of the person you thought you knew."
Dr. Schreier has observed many divorcing clients shed weight quickly. Typically it occurs during the period of initial shock, when people display symptoms of "acute stress syndrome" after a spouse asks for a divorce or discloses an affair.