Many of us struggle with overeating following a significant loss such as the death of an animal companion. Don't put on extra pounds as you heal from pet loss. Instead, develop a healthier relationship with food by understanding what drives eating and how to relate to it more mindfully.
Good pet loss nutrition: Don’t let your diet suffer while grieving
Chocolate cake. That's my vice when I'm emotionally stressed. Well, ok, it's pretty much anything baked. I'm a dessert freak and have a REALLY hard time saying now when my mental reserves are gone. And going through pet loss has pretty much tapped me out on several occasions. It's been a struggle for me to make good food choices while I mourn.
If you’re dealing with the loss of a much-loved pet, you may be at risk for poor nutrition, too. The stress that comes along with grief can cause you to eat too much, eat too little, or look for comfort in unhealthy foods. Good nutrition is critical to your ability to heal in the wake of pet loss. You need energy to overcome your sadness and find calm.
Even if your appetite is depressed by the anxiety of pet loss grief or you're having a lot of trouble resisting that fifth (eleventh?) cookie, you need to commit to good nutrition through the healing process. I'm gonna help you do it. Here are a few simple strategies I've been incorporating into my pet loss self-care plan.
Stick to regular meal times
Eating nutritious food will help you heal, but it's also a good idea to stick to a normal eating schedule. Try to incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as much as possible. These healthy foods are doubly important when dealing with the stress of pet grief. You may not feel up to eating your normal fare so simple and easily-digested foods are also recommended. Yogurt, homemade soups, and whole grain pastas are all good options.
Drink plenty of water
Every system in your body depends on water to function properly. In the midst of pet loss grief, you’re likely to be focused on your feelings, which may lead you to not feel thirsty. The last thing you want is to be dehydrated because you need lots of energy to overcome the stress of grief. Before you begin to feel fatigue, headaches, or other common dehydration symptoms, make sure to take in plenty of water. Learn some creative ways to get more water into your diet.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Either of these can worsen dehydration, and you don’t need anything that will exacerbate your anxiety. You need to focus on healthy dietary choices in order to keep your energy level high. Caffeine only offers temporary (and often anxiety-inducing) energy, while alcohol can worsen your mood considerably. We've got plenty of ways to help you stay hydrated without these potentially unhealthy choices.
Mind your microbiome
Our loved ones are important parts of our microbiomes, helping to define who we are on a bacterial level. This is why the loss of a pet - especially a lovable dog - takes such a physical toll in addition to the emotional pain it causes. We must feed our microbiomes when the presence of our pets is gone. Discover some of the techniques that will feed your good bacteria after you no longer have the kisses of your dog or cat.
Avoid eating your grief
Your relationship with food can change when you’re struggling with the physical and emotional symptoms of pet loss grief. Food can suddenly become your new best friend, which can be a pretty big problem if your dietary choices are unhealthy. Fatty foods make many people feel less sadness. Combined with not wanting to cook, this can lead to a reliance on fast food. Binge eating is a very real risk, too, for people grieving the loss of a fur baby. Do your best to avoid these temptations and focus instead on eating well to accelerate the healing process with our guides to cultivating a healthy mindset and relationship to food. These mindfulness weight loss apps may be just the ticket to help you stop eating your sorrow.
Nutrition is just one important element of your self-care checklist during pet loss. The symptoms of grief will really wear you down if you don’t take action to overcome them. Explore all of our nutrition and diet tips, and keep learning more about how you can combat the pain of pet loss grief by taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Image: Monstruo Estudio, Matthais Heil
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Health Disclaimer: I’m passionate about wellbeing and health but I’m not a medical professional, nor am I a licensed therapist. Any content you read on this site is intended for inspiration and for information only – by not means am I providing medical advice. Please consult your certified professional for personalized recommendations on the mental health or physical health ideas I write about.
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