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Managing your diet after losing a loved one

Sunday, April 28, 2019

LIFE has certain immutable facts and, sadly, if you care about anyone, sooner or later they may become ill, you will lose them, or they will lose you.

The illness or death of a loved one can shake your very foundation. You may be grieving the medical challenges and possible loss of a loved one, or have lost a loved one. This may just be the start of a process of grief which can last for six months, a year, or even longer.

Coping with illnesses, grief and loss is by far one of life's greatest challenges. even with acknowledgement and acceptance of the pain, your every waking hour can feel like you are in a cloud of grief and despair.

Moderate exercise and healthy eating is strongly recommended for coping with loss. However, at these times, emotionally triggered eating disorders may threaten to take over our lives.

What we are eating and what it will do to us is the last thing on your mind, and even when the idea of taking care of ourselves is presented to us, we entirely reject the concept, stepping closer and closer to illness and disorder ourselves.

Grieving often triggers emotional and physical problems such as: Lowered immunity, sadness, weight loss or gain, anger, sleeplessness, fear, fatigue, aches.

We must recognise and remember that your loved one would never, under any circumstance, want you to ignore and jeopardise your well-being. they would, in fact, wish for nothing more than you maintaining your best possible health throughout. Although every part of your essence may be screaming otherwise, it is possible to fulfil their wish.

In your effort to “carry on”, it is supremely important that you embrace your physical and emotional well-being.

It isn't uncommon for people to become ill at times such as these. It is so universal and prevalent that the Germans even have a word for the unhealthy weight gain which can come with grief, “kummerspeck” (grief bacon/fat).

Generally, insufficient nutrition and/or excessive empty foods, and of course intense stress, can lead to additional unfortunate outcomes. Thankfully, there are known mechanisms which can help you cope on your long path to resolving your loss.

There are several steps which are known to help with the potential emotional and physical problems connected to grieving.

Keep moving

Even a simple walk will provide what you need to help your body process some of the harmful by-products of stress. However imperceivable, exercise will boost your mood.

Be aware of your health

Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Don't explain away “bad feelings” — this is not the time to make assumptions. It is better to see your physician than to be sorry. If you are taking medications, be conscious of your medication times or set alarms so you do not forget.

Reach out to your friends and family

Yes, you know and they know that at this time it can be awkward, even painful to see people, but the last thing you need is extended isolation. As soon as possible, communicate — be it face to face, phone, email, or messaging.

Maintaining a healthy diet while grieving

This is highly important and reaches to the core of your ability to maintain throughout this time. We understand that it will not be easy by any measure, but for your sake and the sake of everyone in your life you must, at the very least, maintain.

Stress is a trigger for damaging, sometimes lasting, eating disorders — not eating; not maintaining awareness of what you are eating; embracing high-fat, high- sugar, and highly refined carbohydrate foods.

The end effect of each of these choices will be an increase of negative emotions and ill health.

To minimise the effects of the emotional and physical problems connected with grief and loss, you must maintain a regular diet consisting of:

• Simple planned meals;

• Moderate protein intake;

• High micronutrients (vegetables);

• Berries, seeds, nuts and other natural foods;

• Little to no alcohol;

• Controlled coffee intake; and

• A lot of water.

Collectively, this balance will create what you need most to keep and maintain your best wellness. If you are finding it difficult, it is always good to seek support from a friend, professional therapist/councillor, or your diet coach or system if you currently have one.

If you have a friend or family member experiencing these challenges, be there for them when they need you and support the positive directions outlined here.

If you are dealing with grief from worry or loss, always remember, be kind to yourself, be your own best friend and your own loved one. Do for you what you would do for someone else, and reach out, get the support needed to keep you throughout these trying times.

As one ITK member, Caroline, who lost her father said: “I think he'd be proud of my effort to get healthy. I think of him daily and hope he's watching.”


Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 876-863-5923, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org

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