This is the final installment from Kelly K., with her reflections on participating in the PeaceMeals’ Grief Reset. She discusses her “Do’s and Don’ts” for doing a Grief Reset, and the small changes that have reset her habits for good. (You can catch up on Part I and Part II.)
1. DO: Be flexible.
This is my number one take away from this three week journey. Meal plans are great, but guiding principles are better for me. Despite shopping list planning, I inevitably couldn’t find red cabbage or black beans, or a busy day at work meant no time to get ginger or coriander on my lunch break. The Reset meals, their components, and their ingredients became a toolbox that I could assemble into an exact recipe or “it’s just time to eat now” meal depending on my creativity and exhaustion that day. As long as I started with a fridge full of healthy ingredients and a few Peacemeals blueprints, I could be flexible mixing and matching the rest.
2. DON’T: Make life harder on yourself than it has to be
My stepmom says this to me a lot and it’s a great one. One of the hardest things for me with grief is the inability to distinguish between big and small stresses: everything seems overwhelming. So when the doctor told me to take some extra supplements, I bought a pill organizer. Most BRILLIANT old man invention ever. Everything is set out and I don’t have to try and remember what I have and haven’t taken that day (preempting potential “stress meltdown” events). Little things to make life a bit easier.
3. DO: Be kind to others
Taking care of other people is a fabulous way to make yourself feel better. Following the Grief Reset’s “one act of kindness” suggestions in Week 2, my partner and I made an Irish chocolate and tea run and mailed care packages back to the United States, and had flowers waiting for my stepmom when she got home from putting my dog on the plane to Dublin. Small, tangible, and unique acts of kindness make the weight of grief a bit lighter.
4. DON’T: Stop at 3 weeks
The PeaceMeals Grief Reset was great jumpstart to the new intentionally healthy regimen. While not everything has stuck, some foods and habits so noticeably changed how I felt that I have kept them going:
- Green tea: Use the biggest mug you have, and get the flavoured variety to mask the weird taste. 3-4 cups a day.
- Broth: Try to have one broth-based soup a day – throw in herbs, greens and whatever is on the verge of going bad in the fridge, freeze. BAM. Meal for a happy tummy.
- Caffeine cutback: I now have 1-1.5 cups of coffee in the morning, and that’s it. No black tea at night. I sleep ten times better.
5. DO: Reflect on your own terms
I remember when my mom was sick, people kept saying that I should keep a journal or write a blog or a book about the experience of being a young caregiver. While writing helps many people reflect on grief, I find it takes so much energy just to get through the day, that having to relive it all over again through journaling seems impossible. Personally I found that a quiet walk in the morning with the dog was the best time to reflect and meditate. While the Grief Reset worksheets were good exercises, I can’t put reflection on a schedule or force it at the wrong time.
I found that downloading the Headspace app and listening to it on my own time (just before bed one day, sitting on the train a week later) worked for me.
6. DON’T: Fight the meltdown
Ah, the meltdown. Despite all the wholesome foods, the buckets of mint tea and homemade chicken soup, the wave of meltdowns still came and went over the three weeks. Some were tidal waves of sadness, others were just a dense, oppressive fog of weariness. The meltdowns are awful, and one of the hardest parts of grief. But like many Irish days, there are downpours, but the sun will make it through eventually. The key is to be prepared: waterproof pants, a hot mug of tea, the house heater timed for when you get back, and a healthy, wholesome meal to come home to.
7. DON’T: Be afraid to say no
It’s ok to not be a social butterfly, and to skip going pint-for-pint with the lads on a friday night. People can be strange when you are avoiding alcohol and trying to make healthy decisions, but I was lucky having started the grief reset at the same time as Lent, so didn’t get too socially pressured. Give yourself permission to say no, and other people will get it.
In Conclusion: 5 small food changes that have “reset” my eating
I had been suffering from stomach pains and migraines more frequently in the last year and a half, so I decided to consult a doctor who specialized in gut health. She diagnosed me with an inflamed gut and has set me on a number of things to help healing and re-growing whatever good bacteria had been killed off. Many of the food changes reflected what I was doing in the PeaceMeals Grief Reset, so it the Reset ended up being a great jumpstart to the new regime. Here are some of the things that have really made me feel better in the last 3 weeks. Again, these are just for me, but seriously seem like things that everyone could benefit from, regardless of whether a doctor tells you to do them or not.
Broth: The doc recommended that i drink 3 cups of broth a day. (my first thought: Whoah. That’s a lot of trips to the bathroom with my pea sized bladder). I try to do at least one broth soup a day. I found a stall in the local farmers market called “The Broth Merchant” and buy a few tubs of that, and throw in whatever fresh herbs i have, kale or spinach, any leftover meat (whole roasted chickens from the supermarket are fabulous for this), frozen veggies that need to get used up, and rice or sweet potato. Its a great way to stay hydrated and makes you feel full and warm.
Whole fat: The doc recommended getting more good fats in my diet: whole fat yogurt, eating the whole egg instead of egg whites in the morning, and nut butters. All in moderation, the whole fat options really do make you feel more full longer, and as long as you’re not drinking the tub of almond butter (tempting, i know), whole foods help repair your gut lining, and they avoid the sugar replacements from low fat alternatives. Plus whole fat greek yogurt = yum.
Mint green tea: I think green tea is manky. I have tried it before, and just really doesn’t do it for me. Since the PeaceMeals Reset said to drink green tea, I went to the store and bought spearmint green tea, which I’ve been drinking nonstop since. The green tea keeps me awake, and the mint is strong enough to mask that weird green tea taste.
Caffeine limits: For week 2 of the Reset, I cut back to one caffeinated drink per day. I love my morning cup of coffee, so that was a must. I cut out black tea at night though, which as much as it had become a routine, I think was keeping me from falling asleep. I drink an after dinner teasane (decaf herbal tea) now, and have been able to fall asleep a lot better. I also cut out the after-lunch cup of coffee, opting for a walk in the fresh air and a cup of green tea or sweet licorice tea if i was craving sweets.
Gluten free: I am a big fan of everything in moderation, including moderation. So when the doctor told me to try gluten free for three months to see if that helped, I wasn’t sure. But I have been following it, and I genuinely feel loads better. And when I do give into a bit of pizza or a cookie, I know it’s not the end of the world (I know I am not severely intolerant). But I end up just wishing I had grabbed my oatcake instead. I also really like the community around gluten free – Ireland has the highest prevalence of Celiac Disease so shopping isn’t too difficult, and everyone online with food blogs is very creative and encouraging about it. When there are so many options, and it genuinely makes you feel better, why not?
Interested in taking part in the PeaceMeals Grief Reset for yourself? Contact us to learn more!