If you have ever lost someone close to you, you know how hard staying on track with your healthy eating habits can be during the immediate days afterward - your schedule is all over the place, people are delivering food (mostly in the form of comfort or dessert), and quick meals at odd times are often your only choices.
In early April, I let my guard down and spent days eating muffins for breakfast, fried chicken and cold cut sandwiches for lunch and leftovers for dinner. And let's not forget the berry and apple pies that called my name at least once a day. Most of my energy in those days was focused on battling an upset belly, being overly tired & cranky and in addition to the emotional stress I just felt UGH.
Last week I found myself in the same situation and vowed that I would NOT put my body (or my family) through any more chaos than it needed.
Here are the 5 easy steps that kept me on track while dealing with my grief.
1. Volunteer to do the grocery shopping. When I walked in that first night, the refrigerator was void of milk, there was only white bread in the pantry and a tray of muffins was sitting proud on the counter. I got up early the next morning and went on a shopping spree that included whole grain bread, rolled oats (NOT instant), fresh strawberries & blueberries, Kind bars, organic 2% milk, natural peanut butter, a case of water.....
2. Bring along healthy snacks and water. You are going to be at the funeral home during odd and extended hours - over lunch, over dinner, until 8:00 at night. Throw a handful of almonds and a nutrition bar (or 2) or a banana in your bag and plan to snack small. Resist the urge to overeat prior to going, as that will just spike blood sugar levels and leave you with that uncomfortable feeling. If the funeral home doesn't have a water cooler, pack a few bottles in your bag as well. Take extras so you can help keep your entire family turning into the Kranks at the first signs of hunger or thirst.
3. Eat light when you eat late. Going to dinner at 9 p.m. is almost a given at least once, but this is where those snacks you packed come in handy. Get a light salad (strawberry spinach with slivered almonds) or cup of broth-based soup (chicken noodle) for you late night dinner. Your body will need the fuel, but this will be light and healthy(ish).
4. Make breakfast for everyone. On the morning of the funeral I woke up about an hour before everyone and started the coffee...and the rolled oats. The grocery store I went to did not have steel cut oats, so I settled for the old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant!) and made huge batch for the family. I also put out some honey, strawberries, blueberries and brown sugar (for my not-so-healthy little brother) to make prep easy. Everyone enjoyed the treat, avoided the 2 dozen donuts someone dropped off the night before, and appreciated not having to think about breakfast.
5. Choose the healthiest option, always. So, you've hit the wall here, it's time for the wake and it's veggie trays and meat & cheese trays and pie galore. Not to mention all the diet soda - ugh! Remember that whole grain bread you bought earlier in the week? Time to grab that loaf and make your sandwich. Choose turkey over salami and mozzarella over cheddar. Dress your sandwich with a tomato, lettuce and mustard. Skip the ranch dressing on those veggies. Pass right by that pie and grab a bowl full of strawberries to snack on instead. This time of year they are juicy and full of flavor!