Have I mentioned I am guilty?
“Yes, I confess that I would open up a can and eat out of it, while standing at the kitchen counter with a bag of potato chips! ”
This is what happens to people in the stress of grief. We forget when we ate and what we ate last. For me it was easier to sit down with a tub of ice cream rather then cook meal. But it was a short-lived pleasure. After the ice cream, I still felt bad, but now I had the “sugar blues”, that low feeling where you crave another “sugar hit”. And I felt guilty about all those empty calories. I realized I was trying to bury my feelings under food but it had not helped my heart, and I was still facing the same marathon journey of grief.
What you eat affects your day more than you may realize. A balanced diet gives you increased energy, strength, concentration, and helps your immune system. Grief usually means low energy, so a good diet that boosts your energy is a real bonus.
Grief has a life of it’s own. It is a high stressor. Sometimes you cry off and on all day, some days you feel guilty because you haven’t cried, and in other moments you might be angry, anxious, guilty, lonely or more. Physically, common complaints include colds, lingering flu, back and shoulder aches, digestive complaints, fatigue, poor eating and sleeping patterns and headaches.
Healthy habits and healthy eating make it easier
Simple things, such as eating well and drinking water can improve a person's quality of life. Even getting only 20 minutes of sunshine outside can help and healthy eating will make the journey easier. By the way, dark chocolate is famous for releasing “feel good” substances and small amounts can give a boost. But be careful, it is deliciously addictive and has high sugar and fat content.
Some practical ideas for eating for grief:
1. Dehydration can be an issue for people who are grieving. Knocking back a glass of water (warm or cold) is a great start to the day. Some people squeeze a 1/2 of a lemon or lime in a tall glass, add a pinch of baking soda for alkalinity in an "acidic food" world, let it fizz down and fill with water. It balances electrolytes and helps everything from the digestion to the brain.
2. Fruits and veggies – buying the prepared salads saves your energy.
3. Comfort foods can be healthy and as a bonus, they feel good and are nutritious:
a. chicken and mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes that are a bit healthier)
b. chicken noodle soup – I load it up with frozen veggies
c. chili – make it healthier with ground turkey, onions and peppers
d. good old grilled cheese sandwich - but hold the Wonder bread, use whole grain and quality cheese
4. Smoothies with yogurt or kefir and real fruit and juices.
5. Make up a healthy pot of soup, enough to freeze some.
6. Take a quality multivitamin or greens supplement/super-food.
When friends ask what they can do to help you, ask them for nutritious homemade foods, and even invite them to join you, for an added health benefit.
How did Ringo get and stay healthy?
Ringo Starr of the Beatles is 75 years old and has faced his daughter’s struggle with cancer, his ex-wife’s death and his mother-in-law’s passing. He said he stays healthy by eating carrots, kale and has become part of the “broccoli and blueberries set”. "I'm obsessed with broccoli… Even when I cook a basic dish like pasta and pesto I throw in some broccoli,” Ringo said. Put those on your grocery list too – right beside the lemons for your water. This recipe for Broccoli Salad is not Ringo's but too good to pass by. He has an amazing Eggplant Parmesan recipe though.
A balanced diet is an important tool in healing from grief and joining Ringo’s “broccoli and blueberries set” is a great idea. It provides the building blocks our body needs to cope with grief-stress and keeps our immune systems healthy. This will help the day come sooner, when we will wake up in the morning with energy once again, with a heart full of cherished memories and seeing that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting a bit brighter.
Toasting you with my carrot juice with ginger, “To a healthier and better New Year”!
Blessings, big hugs and keep moving forward,
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Check out other helpful blog articles including : Five Lessons Learned in the Fire, Birthday Parties in Heaven, He is not here, Just tell Me What Happened and The Worst Nightmare plus helpful Renewing Resilience Tips.
If you are facing loss, get the support you deserve. For additional resources, including a no-obligation introduction coaching session to discuss your situation and renew resilience and tranquility, with Helga Bender MThS, click here.
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