Medicine for a Broken Heart Within my group of friends, when one of us is struggling with a recent breakup after a long-term relationship, the castaway will be sad and depressed. The response to sadness takes one of two courses — either appetite fails totally, or we eat excessively to quell our yearnings over lost loves. If one of the girls in my dorm wants to indulge her appetite for food after a breakup, we all join in. We all eat terrible food in terrible quantities. For instance, ice cream, cakes, cookies and potato chips all become comfort foods that we consume in excess. I think this happens for a variety of reasons. To begin with, at my age — nineteen — we are all very concerned with our physical appearance. We want to be attractive, to have the kind of body image our society values. To that end, we moderate what kinds of foods we eat, how much, and how often; and we often overexert ourselves at the gym trying to burn off extra calories. We maintain good habits to keep up good appearance and thereby maintain a good relationship. However, when anyone experiences something as stressful and emotionally draining as a broken heart, he or she tends to disregard healthy habits and takes some pleasure in consuming those formerly forbidden foods. Of course, it is all a vicious circle. We lose our boyfriends, we become depressed, we eat, we gain weight (which, in turn, depresses us), we struggle to regain our self-respect, we enter into another relationship, and the cycle goes on. Food is not the only recourse for a sad lover. One friend of mine soothes her broken heart by going shopping — buying new clothes and new shoes, maybe a piece of jewelry — to make herself feel better. Whether it’s food or shopping, self-indulgence is often good medicine for the blues, if it is not carried to excess. The worst response is turning to alcohol or drugs.