I know, I know—who even wants to eat when their heart is broken?
I didn’t feel like I could. There was a rock in my chest and solar plexus blocking the route food would usually take.
So who cares what food might help heal that heavy hole?
Well, I knew for sure that I didn’t want to be left feeling that horrendous. It’s like being knocked off a glorious sunny mountain top, then coming to in a dark, jaggy-rocked crevice (after hanging off the edge of a cliff for a while by my fingernails in terror).
When the initial shock subsided, the pain, disbelief and despair took its place. Looking around, it was clear that the only way out of that dark place was to get up and start climbing, but after a fall like I didn’t know if I could—or I even wanted to.
But I did, and that’s why I started seeking little bits of help and hope in any little corner of light I could find.
So here’s the deal—there’s a strong correlation between anxiety rising and blood sugar dropping. Between surges in dark-thinking and the body’s fuel waning.
In the middle of great sadness, I noticed that each time I chose to pause the painful stories (that my mind would like to keep on repeat) until after I’d fed and watered myself, the stories had way less power to pull me back under the waves.
Eating when it’s time to eat is critical—breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner—every 2-3 hours, whether we feel like it or not (and let’s be honest, it won’t always be easy to make the choice to eat at first).
I knew standard “comfort food” would make me feel even less like living, so I chose fresh, whole, unprocessed foods, with lots of good protein, good fat and fibre. Choosing to feed myself with healing, nourishing food sent a powerful message to my cells and my psyche—that no matter what had happened, what had been said, or how awful it felt, I am not abandoning me!
This rallied every tiny part of my being to do what it’s here to do: to work together as a team dedicated to my vibrancy. It’s not easy to find the strength (or willingness), but it is doable.
I found myself more open-minded when devastated than ever before. From that place of brokenness the options were clear: stay in this state or ask for help. I invoked the help of a loving Higher Power (God, the Universe, my Higher self, Love, the Force, take your pick!) and kept doing that to find the strength, and the willingness, to make it through—first from moment to moment, then hour to hour, then day to day, till the gaps between the pain are longer and gradually brighter than the painful moments themselves.
So often we batter ourselves when we’re already down by starving ourselves, depriving ourselves of sleep, thereby giving extra power to the dark stories of the ego and perpetuating our pain. It is self-harm. But It doesn’t have to be like that.
We actually do have a choice. And we have a responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to those around us, and from a certain metaphysical perspective, to the whole of humanity—because what we do affects everyone. And I know that maybe it’s not fair, and maybe we have been horribly wronged, but we can choose to rise up again anyway.
How we deal with this “tomb time” of grieving for our old self and life and dreams makes all the difference in how we will emerge out the other side. All the hackneyed adages about “becoming stronger” and “being able to love more deeply with a cracked-open heart” and “time healing all” are true (and the last thing I wanted to hear), but having been in this jaggy crevice a few times now, I actively chose to do things differently this last time.
Loving myself through it has been the bravest, strongest, and wisest thing I could possibly do. Somewhere in this midst of all this awfulness, there has been an amazing opportunity to rise up again out of this tomb—stronger, brighter, more beautiful—a shiny new version of myself. Like a phoenix!
And probably, hopefully, less likely to get hurt in quite this same way ever again.
Foods to avoid:
The clichéd binge will not make anyone feel better. Here are some foods to avoid and why.
Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (which quickly turn to sugar in the blood).
– Surges in blood sugar stimulate the stress response.
– The stress response imbalances our entire system and sets off spikes and crashes in energy and mood.
– It causes our brains to chug out masses of adrenalin at first, and then over time cortisol, which means our whole body freaks out, our heart’s pound, our breath shortens, blood and oxygen only get channeled to our major organs so the rest of our body gets nothing, our mind is on heightened panic so completely ill-equipped to deal with anything mildly stressful (and let’s be frank, we’re already dealing with something pretty darn stressful here). On top of this, our digestive system stops doing its thing, so often people get the runs, and the body won’t get the nourishment it needs from anything we do eat, leaving us starving from a cellular level.
– All of this exacerbates feelings of panic, fear, darkness, desolation and hopelessness. It does not provide the nourishing healing conditions we need.
Heavily processed foods.
– These are deficient in the micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids) crucial to our whole well-being, including nervous system health.
– With an undernourished nervous system, our already burdened psyches will really struggle to process and cope. We would then tend to feel more frazzled and unable to manage. Again, we really don’t need that on top of everything else!
– Processed food is full of unpronounceable additives, we have enough going on without trying to process weird chemicals with toxic side effects. Again, this does the opposite of providing healing conditions and channels energy away from the healing we need
– It’s a depressant (surely that says it all?!).
– It depletes nutrient absorption and the body has to work overtime to process it.
– It increases feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
– Pretty much nothing that seems like an awesome idea when drunk is going to feel good in the morning. We don’t need a new wave of regret and shame to add to the pain and sadness we’re already processing.
Treat yourself to these instead:
Treating ourselves is a healing thing to do when we choose foods that support our currently burdened nervous system, literally helping us feel better, and supporting our body in finding the most healing, loving and uplifting way through this tricky time.
– High in magnesium to balance brain chemistry and help enhance positivity.
– Contains compounds that help serotonin do its job (yay for happy hormones!).
– Tastes great and feels like a treat.
Heart-warming herbs (cinnamon, clove, allspice).
– Invigorate and strengthen the nervous system which is so crucial just now while the nervous system has so much to process
– Lift low spirits and have a relaxing effect which clearly is beneficial when our current baseline state is to feel down and stressed
Good fats (coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, flax/chia oil).
– Crucial for nervous system health. Our brains and nervous systems are pretty much entirely made of fat, so making sure there is plenty to keep them nourished is a huge step in soothing our frazzled nerves and alleviating the intensity of the hopelessness and sadness that otherwise threatens to swamp us.
– Help nutrient absorption. They make sure that every tiny cell in our body is working optimally to keep us in the best state to get through this. The more nourished we are on this cellular level, the easier it will be for the psyche to process, heal and see the light.
– Slow-release energy to stabilize mood. Keeping our hormones stable plays a huge part in keeping us on as even a keel as possible. We’re going to feel (sadness, anger, panic, numb) in waves, but the more stable your hormones the more likely you can surf the wave, than wipeout with each one.
Healing Chocolate Spice Milk
¼ cup goji berries
3 cinnamon sticks
2cm cube ginger, peeled and sliced
5 cardamom seeds
5 cups water
Healing choco-licious additions:
1 cup pre-soaked, rinsed organic pecans or pumpkin seeds
2 tbsps raw cacao
2 tbsps coconut oil
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
1 tbsp hemp seeds
3 dates (de-seeded)
1 scraped vanilla bean
Put the infusion base ingredients into a pan, cover and bring to the boil, simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Strain the liquid directly into a high speed blender.
Add the remaining ingredients and blitz until smooth.
Enjoy warm, or put in jars for later.
Great cold and reheats well over a gentle heat continually stirred. Will keep for 4 days in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Author: Rebecca Murray
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s Own