Coping with grief is never easy, and people do so in many different ways. By focusing on consuming a healthy and nutritious diet, you may be on the way to normality again…
Coping with the death of a loved one is likely to incite a number of unknown feelings to you. Whether you were assigned as the lasting power of attorney and your duties are now over, or you were a close family or friend, you may find it difficult to adjust. It’s likely you may feel guilt, anger, sadness, anxiety, and so many more emotions all at once!
It may surprise you to hear that there is an intrinsic link between our minds and whether our body is healthy or not. By consuming vitamin-filled proteins, vegetables, and fruits, the effects may be noticeable too how you cope with your grief.
If it feels as though your grief is consuming you, perhaps some diet changes may be in order? To find out more about how you can tackle your grief through consuming the right foods, read on…
The Many Faces of Grief
As you make your way through the many stages of grief, you’ll likely notice a number of changes in your mind and body. Some of the most common effects of grief could include:
- Weight fluctuation: many grieving individuals will either lose their appetite, meaning they’ll lose weight, or they’ll gain weight from consuming a lot of comfort food.
- Greater risk of health problems: because of the associated risks which go along with over-eating or under-eating, it’s likely that you may come up against greater health problems than before.
- Mood swings: this shock to the system is likely to make you act differently to normal, so you may experience rapid changes in your mood.
- Developing unhealthy patterns: alongside eating, you may fall into bad habits, for example drinking or smoking more, and you may stop exercising all together. You may even find you struggle to leave the house.
- Lack of energy: fatigue is a common symptom of grieving, which means you may end up falling asleep during the day, and have trouble concentrating.
- Insomnia: with such big change will come a big alteration in your sleeping patterns too. In some cases, you may find that you struggle to fall asleep at night.
- Tightening in your throat or chest: your body will likely feel drained, but it may also feel very strained too. So, feeling tight in the chest, which may even cause you to struggle with breathing too, could occur.
- Feeling hollow: in a similar way, you may also feel physically empty inside of you; a gut-wrenching feeling that never leaves.
What Foods Are Good for Grief?
One of the greatest ways to combat grief is through your diet. Other than consuming lots and lots of water, due to the loss of fluids from crying, and consuming all the right vitamins, what else is good?
Well, eating a healthy and balanced diet, filled with vegetables and proteins, will get you well on your way to feeling more like yourself. Some tips for introducing more nutrients into your diet include…
Try Some Herbal Remedies
In the modern world, we tend to pay little attention to the positive effects of herbs on our bodies. The ancients had a good idea of what they were capable of, so why not revisit these ideas now? Some herbs which may be a good addition to your food or drinks include:
- Lemon balm
Whether you consume herbal teas, or add these lovely ingredients into your cooking, either you’ll get the added benefits that come with them. By sprinkling any of these into your food prep, not only will your food taste that extra bit more vibrant and flavoursome, you’ll also feel the benefits of these amazing additions in your mental health.
Consume Plenty of Fruit and Vegetables
When you’re grieving, it’s all about digestion. Not only do you want to keep your organs going, you also want to consume foods that are relatively easy to digest. This way, you can get a good balance of gut action.
To get your digestive system working thoroughly, eating raw fruits and vegetables is a good bet. Perhaps you could try blitzing some smoothies together, containing bananas, spinach, carrots, celery, avocados, or berries. On a similar vein, crack out the humous which we all know and love, and get dipping your veggie sticks into them!
Again, the same with fruits; easy to digest, and full of natural sugars to get your energy levels up. Some good choices include bananas, dates, and figs, which are easy to digest, as well as elderberries, which are great for your mental health.
Increase Your Protein Intake
It’s actually advised that, during the stages of grief, you increase your protein intake. So, ensure that between 10 to 30 percent of your calorie intake is filled with delicious proteins.
Proteins can be sourced from a range of places, including meat, fish, eggs, and other dairy products. But, vegetable protein, which comes from lentils, chickpeas, legumes etc., is one of the healthiest forms of protein.
So, rather than consuming more red meats, try and balance it out with delicious pulses to even out the playing field. This way, you won’t be consuming too many saturated fats, which aren’t ideal for beating the blues.
What Foods Should You Consume Less When Grieving?
Yes, there are many foods that you should be consuming more of. That said, you can’t forget to avoid a number of other foods and drinks, which could leave you feeling a lot worse. Some anxiety-inducing items, which should be avoided as much as possible, including
- Saturated fats
The Battle with Comfort Food
There will be a number of health sources online which preach a healthy and nutritious diet to help you to cope with grief. That said, personal bloggers and online articles may swerve in the opposite direction, telling you that comfort food is the key to coping with grief. So, who should you listen to?
Comfort food does have the amazing ability to provide short-term happiness. The dopamine released when you eat, which induces feelings of joy, is released in higher quantities when you consume high-fat meals. This is because, back when we were cavemen and women, high-fat foods meant you got to live another few days, and your brain would reward you for that.
These days, high-fat foods are not as difficult to come by, so this dopamine side effect is a little out-dated now. In fact, this feeling is only short-term, and, over time, these bad foods could cause your physical and mental health to deteriorate.
The key, therefore, is all in moderation. A great way to get a nice compromise is to consume simple and healthy comfort foods. For example, sausage and mash, roast dinners, soups, and meatloaf are all healthy but remind us of growing up. Therefore, we feel inner warmth and comfort from these meals.
You could also start consuming dark chocolate. Although it may not have the same sugary sweetness to milk chocolate, a powerful antioxidant found in dark chocolate, called resveratrol, can help your body too. By releasing endorphins, you’ll feel happier, and your immune system will get back up-and-running too.
By being smart with your food, and treating yourself at certain times, you should start to feel normality creeping back in. After all, the better your relationship with food is over this period of grieving time, the less chance you’ll have of developing poor eating habits.
How to Keep Eating When You’re Grieving
As we’ve already discussed, grief can cause a loss of appetite, and this is actually extremely common. To combat this, it’s important that you take some precautions to avoid you developing poor eating habits. So, here are 10 top tips for battling these overwhelming feelings:
- Prepare meals and freeze them
- Plan each meal ahead of time
- Have healthy snacks at hand
- Get into cooking as a form of relaxation
- Use disposable cutlery, if washing up seems a little overwhelming
- Arrange to have your food shop delivered to your home
- Go out for food with friends
- Look for some healthy takeaway or meal delivery services
- Try and learn to tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger
- Rely on family, friends, and neighbours for support
Struggling with Coping with Grief?
If eating a more nutritious diet doesn’t do the trick, remember that there are a number of support networks available to help people coping with grief. So, if you’re really struggling, seek professional help, especially if you think your eating is getting out of control.
Do you have any experience dealing with a loss? Perhaps you found that your diet helped you through, whether you stuck to fruit, veg, and protein, or struck out with the comfort foods. Let us know, in the comments below, and maybe we can help one another to cope better.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical or mental health advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.