09/10/2012 10:30 | By Nikki Bayley, contributor, MSN Her

The break-up diet

If you're going through a break-up, now is the time to ditch those bad eating habits, says Nikki Bayley.

Jennie Garth (© Rex Features)

After a break-up things could go either way. You can barricade yourself in with a truckload of crisps, chocolate and wine or you could try and follow in the footsteps of 90210 star, Jennie Garth, who has been pictured 30lbs lighter after splitting with her ex. She credits a combination of smart eating, gym work and personal training sessions for her weight loss. Here's our six-step expert guide to moving on from heartbreak by ditching bad eating habits and learning to love a whole new you again.

1. Get physical with food
Tension often builds up around your jaw when you're stressed and upset. The act of chewing helps to relieve that, the important thing is to pick something to chew on that will last a while, calm you down and not add empty calories. "Find a food that will give you something to think about and keep you physically occupied for longer," says Shona Wilkinson, head nutritionist at nutricentre.com. "A bar of chocolate could go in minutes so try something like a bowl of unflavoured popcorn, raw veggies or nuts you have to crack. Walnuts are great and will take a while to eat."

2. Get Social
It can be easy to steer clear of people after a break-up. It's hard having to explain what happened and there's always that worry of 'what if you bump into your ex', or worse, if you start crying. Better to stay home, bingeing on Ben & Jerry's instead, right? Wrong. Head to a social space you know won't be an issue, 'Try a Zumba class," says Josh Warrell, Personal Trainer at David Lloyd Leisure. "You'll have the social factor but won't be expected to talk to anyone. Getting a full body workout to music will lift your mood." An added bonus is that you may find it easier to sleep, switching off those negative thoughts spinning around your head, if you've physically exhausted yourself.

3. Say yes to sushi
As well as being delicious, eating sushi can actually help your mental state. "Sashimi and sushi are full of omega 3," says Shona Wilkinson, "which helps with your brain function. Eat lots of fish and you'll be able to think more clearly and your mind will feel less foggy. Go for oily fish like mackerel and salmon which can help balance your hormones too." Another benefit is eating with chopsticks, which will take a little longer and make you feel fuller sooner. Your brain reacts to digestive hormones, which tells it that you're full, but if you finish eating before those hormones kick in, you'll still feel hungry and probably eat more than you need.

4. Anger is an energy
Along with the inevitable heartache of a break-up, you may experience anger too. Channel that fury into something positive; instead of raging to your friends and getting angry-drunk, hit the gym instead. "High impact exercise helps to stimulate a testosterone response, which is the aggressor hormone in your body," says Josh Warrell. "Stimulate the release of testosterone and it will help to get it out of your system, which will then release endorphins (happy hormones) to stimulate a good mood response." Buoyed up on feel-good chemicals, you won't want to comfort eat.

5. Say no to instant gratification
It's a natural reaction to try to make yourself feel better when you're hurt and upset after a break up. But when that behaviour is harmful, like binge drinking or over-eating, it's time to try a new approach. "Accept your feelings, recognise that they are natural and you are going to feel negative for a while." says Avy Joseph, founder of the CCBH (College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy. "Something has ended but remind yourself, that in spite of what has happened, your worth is not dependent on anyone or anything - it's inside of you. Surround yourself with good friends and good support and express yourself to them."

6. Eat happy
Make smart choices with what you eat and it could have a positive effect on your mood. "Go for foods which contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into seratonin." advises Shona Wilkinson. "The main foods that you get it in are turkey, chicken, sesame seeds, bananas and asparagus." Yes, you get a short-term 'happy hit' from eating chocolate but the inevitable sugar-crash will drag your mood down. Steer clear of artificially trying to lift your mood with caffeine or alcohol. We all know by now that never works and leads to jittery moods and drunk-dial situations.

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