How to Survive Pet Loss – Comfort Recipes for Breakfast
How to survive pet loss is a question that people ask me all the time. And it is a great question! And people are often surprised when I start to talk about eating well and getting outside for exercise. I don’t think that you can ever overestimate the impact of emotion on our bodies. It is this impact that we can tackle during our pet grief.
Comforting Recipes to start the day.
It is so important to try and get some good nutrients into your body when you wake up. This is even more important if you’re not sleeping very well. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate or complicated recipe. A family favourite pick-me-up has to be nutty muesli with lots of fresh fruit, desiccated coconut, toasted almonds and honey. I prefer natural yoghurt with mine but milk works just as well. I just change the fruit to whatever is seasonal and local.
Surviving pet loss – Breakfast like a king
I feel like I am always fighting a battle with my kids about the need for a good breakfast. When they were little it was easy but now that they are teenagers it’s harder to insist that they have a wholesome meal to kick-start their day. They would much rather shove down a bowl of sugary cereal with little to no nutritional value. I repeat like a mantra that the sugar high created in their body by these cereals will bring them crashing down in an hour or so. They will then need another hit of sugar to rescue their energy levels and so the pattern is repeated throughout the day. To fight the lows your body needs good slow-releasing energy, nuts are excellent for this. They will keep pumping a steady stream of energy into your system making crashes less likely.
Eggs – the powerhouse of breakfasts.
Eggs are a brilliant bomb of of goodness. It’s easy for me to say as I’m an eggy person. Boiled, scrambled, poached I love them all. Pop a couple of poached eggs onto a piece of lightly toasted sourdough and some avocado mashed with a bit of chilli. Add a bit of greenery and some tomates, maybe even a little balsamic vinegar. You have rocket fuel in the tank that will last until mid-afternoon!
How does pet grief affect diet?
Grief can have a profound impact on your weight. In the early stages of your bereavement the shock may make you lose your appetite causing rapid weight loss. Without the right nutrients in your system you will find it even harder to combat the emotional blows that naturally occur during this time. This makes breakfast such an important part of your day. Even if you are not feeling like eating it is vital to try and get as much vitamins and minerals into your body to beat the blues.
The loss in appetite can also reverse during your bereavement journey and turn into ‘comfort eating’ where you may start to pile on weight. This can be a vicious circle as you feel more and more unhappy about your body making the grief tougher and tougher to deal with.
I know it can be hard but by starting the day with a good healthy breakfast you are giving your body and your mind the best possible chance of coping with losing your pet.
Pet Loss and Emotional Health
When we lose a pet it can have a profound impact on our lives. As well as dealing with the physical loss of our pet, their morning welcome, their cuddles, feeding them, walking them. We have to deal with intense feelings of shock, pain and a lot of sadness.
Grief and eating are very closely linked. Whether you lose your appetite or start comfort eating it can very quickly feel that you’re losing control and this can negatively affect our feelings of wellbeing.
Here are some ideas to help you to eat in a way to comfort your grief rather than fuel an upward or downward spiral.
- Eat slow-release energy foods – keeping your blood sugar levels even can help to stop dramatic rises and declines of mood. Porridge is a great slow-release breakfast that will keep you stable until lunchtime. Add bananas, some nuts a little honey. It all helps to begin the day as best as you can.
- Drink plenty of fluids – vitamin C is brilliant for combatting winter colds and keep your immunity levels pepped up, a simple glass of orange juice in the morning will help build part of your daily defence against the emotional impact of grief.
- Gut Health – stress and anxiety affect our stomachs and can cause other health problems. Making sure we have plenty of fibre – fruit, whole grains, probiotics – in our breakfast will help reduce the impact of stress on our helath.
- We need healthy fats – people often thin a fat-free diet is good for our body but we need some fats to increase our good mental health. Eggs are a great source of good fat as is oily fish, nuts and avocados.
- Protein is also good for our diet. It’s found mostly in fish and meat but you can get it easily from vegetables, soya products as well as nuts and seeds. Trying to have a handful of pumpkin seeds a day. They’re easy to keep on your desk or in a pocket.
- Beware of caffeine and alcohol. It’s not surprising that we reach out for caffeine if we’ve had a bad night’s sleep. Or a glass of wine in the evening. But both caffeine and alcohol increase our anxiety levels after the initial effect of stress relief. Try to limit your intake to keep your anxiety lowered.
If you are struggling with your diet you might want to speak to your GP or nurse about professional or groups that can help to support you.
For more information about pet loss and bereavement you can sign up to our guide here.