Bereaved spouses and partners

A place for widows and widowers to share their feelings and support one another.

Comfort eating, time to stop

Posted by

Hi all,

my husband died nearly four months ago. Since that time I have done fairly well in restarting my faltering exercise plan and I haven’t drunk alcohol at all. I have resisted the temptation to spend money or immerse myself in endless cleaning.  However I have allowed myself, so far, to eat complete rubbish, whereas normally I enjoy eating fairly healthy stuff. Now it’s lots of chocolate biscuits and very few veg. My husband did all the shopping and cooking and I find have forgotten how. I have tried choosing nice things to cook and making an effort, but as often as not the end result hasn’t been very delicious and finds its way to the bin.

I have been waiting for this problem to right itself, things often do. However it’s now time for me to make an effort to change. Maybe just saying that in this message will help me do it. 

Has anyone got any advice about how to gently sort this out. I don’t want to give myself a hard time over it. Comfort eating is at least comforting and I need all the comfort I can get!! 

Posted by

Hi Leintwardine,

Firstly, I would like to say that I was really impressed with your post because you have acknowledged an issue and the need for you to change something and have also been proactive by saying "Maybe writing this here will help me to change". This to me sounds like such a positive approach because, rather than being down on yourself, you are actually being kind and compassionate in acknowledging what has been going on for you and the need to change it and you are hopeful that having written it down may have been the start of the change.

I think it is good to stop comfort eating and to go back to healthy eating as this will make you stronger and more resilient and will help you to feel better over all. But I also think that it can be difficult to do so; not because you don't care what you eat but because there is an effort involved in buying the things you like and then preparing the food which can seem overwhelming when we are going through so much. I know what I am talking about because my husband and I always did all our shopping together and I found that when I had to do it on my own I didn't care so much what I was buying and didn't put very much effort into food preparation. I think the only way to change this is to gently and slowly putting some time aside, a little bit every day or twice a week or whatever, to sit down and think about what you would like to eat and to equally, when the time comes to prepare it, take the time, 20 minutes or 40 minutes or one hour, to prepare the food and to say to yourself that you won't stop until you have prepared and also eaten it. I have been doing that for a couple of months now and, although neither the shopping nor the food preparation feel good or satisfying, at least when I gently force myself to do it I am getting it done and when I sit down to eat and again have to force myself a little bit to do it I actually realise that it is quite a nice thing to do. I am not doing it every day yet and I don't eat healthy food every day either but I am getting better at it. And so will you I am sure.

sorry, I am not sure if what I have written here makes any sense. I am really tired this evening after a long day in work.

Love, Mel.

I don't like "moving on" because it sounds like leaving our loved one and all that happened behind. But I like "moving forward" because it means that, in spite of my tremendous loss and the pain about that, I move forward in my own life taking Paul with me.
Posted by

Hi Leintwardine

I think you are far from alone in this dilemma- it seems most of us either stop eating enough or comfort eat- & I’m with you on this! 

Its long been known there’s a strong link between how we eat & our emotions & I think it’s one thing that we can have some say in when our lives are altered in a way we had no control over. Let’s face it, cooking healthy meals can feel like just another thing to have to cope with when we are overloaded anyway. For me there was also the thought that my husband ate well, wasn’t overweight, didn’t drink & it didn’t help him anyway & that’s still a hard thought for me to shrug off. 

I have mentioned comfort eating to 2 nurses I know recently who’ve both give me similar advice. Both said don’t worry about it or focus on it & to give yourself some slack, it will change & I would agree that is happening (albeit it slowly!) for me. 

One of the nurses said something that I found really helpful & it may help you. She said if you want the chocolate, go ahead & eat the chocolate but FIRST eat a piece of fruit then have it. To begin with you will eat both, but soon you won’t be so worried about the chocolate & will enjoy the fruit & find it enough. That seems a simple way to make a start to me & maybe change our mindset. Might be worth a try. 

Wishing you all the best 

Sarah xx

Posted by

Hi Leintwardine,

Its four months for me today...

I have just come out of my first hot yoga class. OMG that was hard. On the exercise front I made myself go to my yoga classes. Most of the time I was too drained to fully benefit from the class but over time I have got stronger. I still sit out at times but my thoughts were and still are... even if I managed five mins it was worth it!

The good thing was/is, it gets me out of the house and gives me some sort of structure...still lost in the wider scheme of things but slowly they are improving, bit by bit.

Was gutted my stepson and I had to postpone his visit to me. Felt very lonely this weekend gone and did not get much done.

On the eating front I have yet to cook a proper meal at home. Stopped eating properly when my husband stopped eating properly last year.

I am with Sarah on the fruit front. I have simple bowl of fruit, apples, oranges and bananas. I just make myself have one fruit a day but aim for two! Apart from that my diet is shocking!

I have my first bereavement support session tomorrow and may even start tidying up this weekend. Not sure if you guys have watched after life (Ricky Gervais latest series on being a bereaved spouse...the mess, eating out of cans...that's me!).  Sort of can laugh at that now and time to make small changes....

Wishing you guys all my best wishes and with lots of love,

Dutsie x

Posted by

Hi all,

Thanks for your understanding and encouragement, I’ll pick up on your ideas. I am doing a little better this week, although still a long way to go. I’m focusing on trying to eat some sort of fruit or veg each day and some days I manage it.  I’m doing more exercise which tends to reduce my appetite. I’m not giving myself a hard time for the chocolate biscuits.....for now.