When Tia first died, all I wanted to do was eat my sorrow. I just had this urge to assuage my sadless by treating myself – daily and several times at that. I had kinda recovered from this overindulgence when Spartacus passed away. Though I thought I had a better handle on my habits, I found that pet loss really made it hard not to fall into the same traps as always.
There’s this amazing bakery just two blocks from our house and, well, I’ve made an embarrassing number of visits there over the past year. (Ok, I admit it, I sometimes ended up in there more than once in a 24 hour period. Alright, alright, sometimes it was even three times. Whatever.) I told myself I deserved it and that it was ok to indulge because life felt pretty sad.
But the German chocolate cake and marionberry turnovers and pecan tassies didn’t assuage my pain. They only added to my waistline and deepened my sadness. Gaining weight is a quick way to feel even worse about yourself. I know firsthand how this feels - the sense of self-loathing and utter frustration can be intense. But I have found a hand up in a mindful eating app that I would highly recommend for getting throug pet loss...
You Don’t Have to Gain Wait to Get Through Pet Loss
I knew I needed to find a way to think about food differently. After all, it wasn’t that I was hungry. I just wanted treats! So I wanted to find a weight loss or diet app that would help me change my mindset about food.
That’s what led me to the Eat Right Now app. It’s an evidence-based program that was developed by Yale neuroscientist Dr. Judson Brewer following 10 years of research into how mindfulness can help humans change their eating habits, even while mourning (and their smoking habits). I’m happy to report that with consistent reinforcement, it really has helped me.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of this particular weight loss app:
- Daily exercises and activities: They provide new content (videos and exercises) every day to keep you engaged and interested. These include guided meditations, how to take "noting" walks, and checking in using the “Want-O-Meter” and “Stress Test” to evaluate the true nature of your eating urges. Plus they help by providing goals for each day to improve focus in your efforts.
- Science-based approach: Dr. Brewer has really tested his approach for many years and has proven it to be effective in breaking unhealthy eating habits. I know for myself I already feel a difference in how I think about food and nutrition - which applies even during period of pet grief.
- Personalized guidance: You can receive one-on-one coaching through the online community within the app. I personally haven’t taken advantage of this yet, but do plan to do so.
For me, unlike tracking food and trying to resist the urge to eat, this approach is a lot different in that it focuses on attitude and thought patterns. I want to develop habits that stick with me long-term rather than sprinting toward short-term weight loss that can be reversed by falling back into old ways.
The mindfulness training has been an unexpected benefit in that it’s taught me skills I can use to improve other areas of my life. For example, by using noting practices and taking mindful pauses before spooning something into your mouth, they encourage you to stay in the moment and focus on your eating companions. I feel like this will be a boon for my relationships, especially since I tend to be task-oriented rather than people-oriented - I focus less on who I'm with and more on getting something done (completing the meal) which isn't great for my eating companions.
The one caveat I will make about the app is this: It’s not cheap. While they will give you free access for the first few days, after than you have to pay (at time of this writing) $24.99 per month or $129.99 per year. Gulp. But if my initial experience is any indication of my future success - in that I can develop life-long habits that will benefit me for years to come - then the investment will have been worth it. And besides, I’m a geek – I like science-based options.
Other Mindful Eating Apps to Get You Through Your Pet Loss
Eat Right Now certainly isn’t the only option out there. Now that I’ve tried this mindful eating approach, I see that there are several others that you may find more or less useful for your particular diet goals during pet loss. Check these out:
- In the Moment: This one was developed by a nutritionist with the aim of building more healthy eating habits. It’s supposed to help you know for sure whether you are actually hungry. $1.99 for iOs.
- Am I Hungry?: Similar to Eat Right Now, this one walks you through exercises when you want to eat to try to determine whether or not you actually need to eat. It then graphs the results so you can track over time how you’ve been feeling about food. $2.99 for iOs and Android.
- Mindful Eating Tracker: This one takes a slightly different approach in that it tracks what you’ve had to eat and drink and your level of enjoyment of those things. It’s kinda like an eating journal that also graphs how you’ve done. $2.99 for iOs.
Although I’m quite happy with Eat Right Now at the moment, I very well may jump into one of these after a month or two to see if a different approach can augment my progress. If you’ve tried any of these apps, I’d love to know how useful you found them and how they stand up to Eat Right Now.
Header image: Maryruth; Second image via Unsplash: Brook Lark
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