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Healthy Choices Inside Complex Grief by Sanjeev Javia

When we’re deep in grief, healthy nutritional choices can not only be unattractive but they can be overwhelming. With so many decisions to make after a loss and the complex emotions attached to each one, the conscious decision of what to eat, when, and how much can seem inconsequential. However, how we eat has an impact on the energy and strength we will need to handle ourselves not only physically but emotionally. Food contains the fuel necessary for us to run the systems that allow us to positively make our journey through grief. Grief already puts a tremendous amount of stress on the body, gradually breaking it down, compounding this with poor nutrition can lead to such things as exaggerated emotions, lack of energy, and higher risks to various health issues.

There is no need to overhaul your diet or nutritional lifestyle. It’s more important at this time to simply recognize that nutrition can be a beneficial tool in your journey and that keeping within healthy boundaries will positively impact you not only today, but in the future.  A good way to think about it is, do those things that you already do that are healthy and do them more. Approach it with this mindset of habits in your life that you’ve already achieved success with, the more you’ll be able to do them consistently through this tough time.  Some other tips that can be helpful:

  • Healthy eating is about accessibility, make sure you keep your home stocked with foods you enjoy and are healthy 
  • Choose 4-5 “go-to” foods that are non or semi-non perishable and keep them in your purse/car or office (e.g. carrots, nuts, seeds, apple)
  • Cut back on those foods that are known to harmful – sugar, high amounts of caffeine, processed foods, alcohol 
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – the more water you drink, the better your detoxification/de-stress-ification systems will work
  • Set times to eat your meals, during grief people often say they don’t feel hungry, don’t rely on hunger cues 

Our bodies are incredibly resilient. They can take a lot of abuse and not complain. Grief is a stressful process that can be nurtured in a positive direction when the body is healthy. The foods we eat can be a driving force in our health, wellness, and our ability to make it through the grief journey safely.