Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Emotional Eating: Grief

I got news on Sunday that a good friend passed away. My friend Alice was a powerful force in this world and I will miss her greatly.

Somehow, even though I knew it wasn't literally possible, it just didn't seem that someone so dynamic could actually die. So even though she would have been 89 this month, this loss has hit me hard.

I'd known Alice for more than half my life--since my freshman year at Cal Poly when she took me under her wing.

While I know she had a wonderful and exciting life--she'd be the first to tell you she had "a good, long run" I will miss her. It doesn't seem to matter how old a person is--when people we care about die we suffer grief at the loss.

How do you handle the grief when you lose a loved one? Unlike a lot of emotional eating, when we grieve, often our reaction is to NOT eat...at least in the beginning.

Because we naturally go numb a bit with grief it is easy to not hear our body's cues about eating. Perhaps this is how the tradition of bringing food to the families of the deceased started.

One of my challenges is till to allow myself to feel my emotions. In this country where you may only have a few days off for the death of a family member and no time for even attending funerals of friends, we are encouraged to push our grief down and to carry on.

While our initial reaction may be to not eat, we often fall back to our old ways of pushing down emotions once the numbness wears thin...to eat unconsciously.

Both behaviors are natural responses and we don't serve ourselves or others to beat ourselves up for either over or under eating at these times. However, we do deserve to remember to care for ourselves as we would want our friends and family to care for themselves.

There is no time limit on grief...it will lessen with time...how much time varies widely.

The best way to get through grief is to feel it. Be gentle with yourself during this time. Eat as healthily as you can because this will better serve you.

Don't be surprised if you feel the pull of comfort foods...either old standbys or new or different foods. I found myself wanting graham crackers and Cheerios...carbs, but not my usual desire for rich and creamy ice cream.

The grief will be temporary and you will, when the time is right for you, come back to your ideal healthy patterns. In the meantime, listen to your body and your spirit and take care of yourself as best you can--and allow others to care for you, too...and know that you are loved.

No comments: