Healthy Eating (and Living) While in Grief
While everybody grieves differently, there are some characteristics of grief that arise again and again. Feelings of sorrow and despair, an inability to concentrate, depression and lethargy, and even physical symptoms are common after the loss of a loved one.
This final item—physical symptoms—is one you should not neglect. Although the last thing most people want to do during an emotional time is start a new health regimen, it is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself. Why? Because it is unlikely that your emotional and mental states will recover their balance anytime soon. In fact, one of the tangible things you can do right now is eat well, get enough exercise, and take care of your physical needs in the best way possible. It might not seem like much, but by putting your attention on your body’s needs, you can create a strong, healthy foundation for dealing with the emotional fallout of death.
Healthy Eating after a Loss
There is a good chance your home is laden with hearty casseroles, gift baskets full of snacks, and other condolence offerings with high calories. These items are ideal in the first few days after a loss, when the idea of cooking for yourself is too much, but do not rely on them long-term. These kinds of foods are comforting but are likely to leave you feeling lethargic and drained over time.
Instead, you may want to:
- Make good food choices like fresh fruits and vegetables and energy-boosting greens.
- Strive to reach daily vitamin, protein, and fiber suggestions.
- Eat a well-balanced diet at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Try out new recipes that require you to engage with shopping and cooking.
- Avoid fast food and conveniently packaged processed foods high in fat and salt.
- Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and other mood-changing foods.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get the right amount of calories for your body size and lifestyle.
You can also try a new type of cuisine or cooking class as a way to reach out and connect with others. It might seem like a strange way to handle your grief, but getting out and engaging with the world through food is a positive and healthy way to spend your time.
Healthy Living after a Loss
It is also a good idea to get in some daily exercise. That does not mean that you have to take up Cross-Fit or start a rigorous exercise regimen, but make sure you keep moving and getting fresh air.
- Use a step-tracking device or app to reach a daily goal.
- Take daily walks with a pet and/or friend.
- Try yoga, meditation, or another relaxation-based exercise.
- Join a gym that also offers classes and community activities and events.
- Participate in a group sport that you’ve always wanted to try.
- Take up gardening or another activity that encourages you to move and get outside.
- Find an activity that offers repetition and structure to your day.
These types of sports and activities are even better if you can find a friend or relative to do them with you. Even if you only get out for a few hours each week, getting some fresh air and being in a new environment will only help.