The Grief Diet

What I’ve been reviewing lately is how hard it can be to fix meals in a time of loss. After a long work day, I find myself staring into the refrigerator and freezer and noticing delicious and healthy supplies—and still not being able to choose.

Sometimes when I don’t know what to do, I close the door and feed the dogs. I take them for a walk, try to relax into the evening, even watch a little TV. I wait. I try to notice that I’m hungry and think about what might taste good among the available choices.

After waiting a while, I might go back to the fridge or the freezer for another look. Is there something that looks like it would taste really good? Is there something easy? What do I want for dinner tonight? And if I still can’t decide, then, as a friend suggested, I resort to a frozen entrée. From there, I can usually assemble a side salad.

Still, choosing a meal by oneself, in the face of loss, can be difficult. There are evenings when a bowl of popcorn seems like the best solution.

The grocery challenge

Grocery shopping is also a challenge after a loss. What I’ve discovered is that few people shop on Saturday evenings. Saturday evening shopping serves two purposes; it gets me out and about for a bit, and I don’t have to wait in line too long. My favorite grocery—Trader Joe’s is nearly empty on Saturdays after 6 p.m.

Noticing this grief diet I have tried to do several things to inspire myself. Here are some things I’ve found helpful;

  • Assembling a small selection of tasty frozen meal favorites. I’ve supplemented my favorites with a couple of new things to try too…to stay inspired.
  • Choose smaller packaging. If you are used to shopping for more than one, smaller quantities in the fridge are more manageable—I’m not overwhelmed by having too much of any one thing to eat my way through.
  • When meals feel troubling; tap into a ritual. This might look like lighting a candle, putting on some music, walking or doing yoga stretches or cleaning the kitchen before you begin.
  • Create one really nice meal for yourself once a week. I plan ahead for Sunday evening by choosing a meal I wouldn’t normally make on a weeknight. I grill, bake and assemble a full blown meal (that may also leave in reserve healthy leftovers for Monday or Tuesday.)
  • Although it’s very tempting when I’m tired, grief-stricken and lonely, I try not to watch TV during dinner. Some nights I’m not successful—and some nights I find myself at a table focusing in on my meal.

Whatever the evening meal circumstances, I try to be kind to myself. I try to remember that grief itself is hard work and a process. Some days, some meals, are just harder than others.

What strategies have you used to support your mealtime in times of loss?

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