Grief and Nutrition
Grief is an emotion we all experience, yet we all experience it in different ways. When we are in a grieving state, it can be difficult to take care of ourselves and maintain good health, particularly when it comes to our nutrition. However, nutrition can be an important factor in providing us with the necessary strength and support we need to handle grief. With a proper eating plan, we can restore our wellness and create balance in our lives. In this blog post, we will discuss how good nutrition can help with many of the physical and emotional symptoms that often accompany grief, including insomnia, depression, chronic pain, and high blood pressure.
The Importance of Good Nutrition When Grieving
Grief is known to have a toll on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It can even cause poor eating habits that can lead to certain health issues, such as insomnia, depression, chronic pain, and high blood pressure. Fortunately, good nutrition can aid in the relief of these symptoms. Eating food full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help to improve our immune system, raise dopamine levels (which can help with memory, motivation, and a positive mood), improve heart health, reduce stress levels, and even help fight depression. Eating nutritious food can provide the body with the fuel it needs to stay strong throughout the grieving process.
Foods That Can Assist with Relieving Symptoms
Grief Symptoms like insomnia, depression, chronic pain, and high blood pressure are common during grief. Fortunately, nutrition can help with relieving these symptoms. Foods high in tryptophan can be especially helpful for mood, depression, and insomnia. Good sources of this amino acid include milk, cheese, nuts, chocolate, chicken, and turkey. B-complex vitamins, along with Vitamin C, found in foods like avocados, eggs, and probiotic-rich foods, can help to reduce brain fog, which many grievers experience. It’s also important to stay hydrated; while this may be difficult, you can help make it easier by including hydrating foods in your diet, such as watermelon, cucumber, and strawberries. Keeping hydrated will also aid in organ function, and help to reduce symptoms of fatigue and headaches.
Foods to Avoid When Grieving
As with many things in life, it is important to be mindful of what we eat when grieving. Certain foods can worsen the symptoms of grief, so it’s best to avoid fried and fatty foods, alcohol, and too much caffeine. Alcohol can lead to increased depression, lowered immunity, and dehydration. Caffeine, although having some positive effects when consumed in small amounts, can lead to sleep deprivation, anxiety, and a faster heart rate when too much is consumed. While comfort foods may seem to bring a momentary respite, it is important to practice moderation when it comes to fried and fatty foods as these can lead to insomnia, poor gut health, and weight gain.
Good Nutrition for Grieving
The best tool to help cope with grief may be good nutrition. Eating foods that are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber can provide the body with essential nutrients to manage the physical and emotional symptoms associated with grief. Eating a balanced diet that contains the right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is important, as is eating smaller meals more frequently to keep blood sugar levels consistent. Incorporating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins can help strengthen the immune system, increase energy levels, and even boost serotonin levels, which can improve sleep and mood. It’s also beneficial to include healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts to give the body sustained energy and to keep you feeling full. In addition to eating nutritious foods, staying hydrated is also important when grieving. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks will help support the body’s natural detoxification process. Herbal teas can be a great way to stay hydrated while providing the body with calming benefits that can help with relaxation. It is important to remember that what you eat when grieving can have a direct impact on how you feel both physically and emotionally. Taking the time to nourish your body with nutritious food can be a powerful tool for relieving symptoms of grief and supporting the healing process.
I invite you to watch the replay of “Nutrition for the Grieving Soul.” With celebrity guest host, certified nutritionist, and chef Ricki McKenna.
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Living Beyond Grief: Create an inspired life after loss
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Rachel Vasquez is a WU senior partner, mother, and widow. After an accident took her husband and best friend of 23 years, she began a journey into self-discovery. Rachel now helps others create an inspired life after loss.