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Stress and the "divorce diet"

A recent news article took note of a disturbing trend: many recently divorced women are suddenly much thinner than they were before. While it may be tempting to put a positive spin on this trend, the so-called "divorce diet" is actually a result of chronic stress, not a healthy desire to get into better shape.

According to a stress scale used by medical professionals, divorce is the second most stressful event in life. The only life event that is more stressful is the death of a spouse. When we are stressed, our bodies react in different ways. In many people, unfortunately, the result is an unhealthy change in eating habits. While some people may overindulge in high-calorie foods, others may skip meals or forget to eat altogether. In this latter group, the appetite is suppressed due to stress, and the result is the divorce diet.

In a high asset divorce the stress can be exacerbated by the complications of asset division. Having to value and perhaps part with important assets such as real estate, business assets and retirement plans can cause significant anxiety. Add to this the stress of starting a new life alone, and the body is almost sure to rebel.

As with any stressful life event, those going through divorce need to make sure they are taking care of themselves. Getting regular exercise, having regular contact with longtime friends, and making a point of eating healthy will make the experience less painful. Experienced professionals, whether attorneys or therapists, can also ease the burden by addressing specific concerns and removing much of the uncertainty of the process.

Source: Pam Beach Daily News, "'Divorce diet:' a dangerous way to get thin," Carolyn Susman, Nov. 6, 2012

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