A Balanced Diet and the Grieving Process

A Balanced Diet and the Grieving Process

Apr 17, 2018


When grieving the loss of a loved one many struggle with keeping a balanced diet. During this time of grief you are required to make many important decisions such as funeral and burial arrangements. The great effort that you put into those arrangements leaves you fatigued when trying to make other decisions such as what to eat, resulting in the choice of the easiest option, such as quick processed food and skipping meals altogether.

Turning towards comfort foods such as ice cream, chips, candy, and pizza that are packed with high calories and little nutrients only makes matters worse as a poor diet actually increases stress and depression. Instead, the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can boost your mental health and even see results more effective than prescription medications. Dr. Maxine Barish-Wreden, Physician with the Sutter Medical Foundation, says "studies have shown a reduction in depression of 40 to 60 percent when people are eating the right foods, which is a better outcome than most drugs".

Eating healthy when grieving the loss of a loved one gives you the tools to stay healthy and strong, this in turn allows you to make better decisions and work through your feelings of grief more successfully. Molly Ruggles, PsyD LP from the Center for Grief and Loss says "grieving the loss of a loved one is a process that is taxing on our emotional well-being as well as our physical body. We know that how well we take care of our physical body has a direct impact on our emotional well-being: the positive impact of exercise on our mental state is reflected in research, and the link between gut health and emotional wellness has also been supported in research. Taking care of your body with a balanced diet will not, of course, take away the pain of the loss, but it does help to promote a holistic process of healing. In addition to a balanced diet, exercise, a good sleep routine, and individual or group therapy, can aid in promoting the healing process following a difficult loss."

Tips for eating healthy while grieving:

Keep healthy snacks that do not require preparation such as apples, oranges, granola bars, or yogurt on hand and easily accessible.
Stock your fridge with real, unprocessed food such as leafy greens, fresh produce and nuts.
Have decaffeinated alternatives such as decaf coffee, tea, or single lemonade packets rather than soda.
Plan a week's worth of meals ahead of time and purchase all ingredients in one shopping trip. This can help you stick to a plan instead of throwing something together last minute.
Carry these healthy eating tips into your everyday life after you have worked your way through the grieving process. Healthy foods are great for your mental health no matter what you are going through.

FamilyMeans Center for Grief and Loss offers counseling and therapy for those working through grief, trauma, and life transition. We provide hope during the most difficult times in life. If you are interested in learning more, or would like to set-up a session, please contact the Center for Grief and Loss at 651-641-0177.