widow dietI’m going to jump straight in on the Widow Diet. We discuss the importance of self-care, but nutrition is a vital and important component of the big picture.

We’ve heard the buzz words of macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Protein, Fats, and Alcohol. However, in the Widow Diet, alcohol takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes a necessity to get through the hurt and heartbreak of widowhood.

Alcohol is its food group within this diet plan. But it’s not to be vilified because usually it’s accompanied by anything package or deliverable.

For me, my Widow Diet consisted of 2 beers, just enough to numb but not disable me, a bowl of cheddar popcorn (like Smartfood), and for dessert half a bag of dark chocolate covered pretzels.

There used to be a message board back when I first was widowed in 2013 which does not exist anymore—YWWB. There was a subgroup within it to talk about what we were eating. Pre-hipster days I guess. But much of it was the same regardless of the newness of widowhood or year-long veterans.

When the grief monster awakes, route of least resistance for nourishment commenced.

That also includes not eating at all.

Some would be about corn flakes; others devoured entire x-large pizzas, some would cruise to the sofa with a pint of ice cream. Stress eating takes on a whole new meaning when dealing with the bereaved community. To be entirely forthright it’s not exclusive to the widowed community. As a personal trainer, many stories I encounter are from those who had a mega life situation happen. One this is always in common, they’ve found solace in food.

The temporary thrill of food is addictive, and it can create habits that carry on for years. Everything in the world has little to no emotional impact. But when the refrigerator opens, and I’m down to my last beer, my language becomes very colorful, and cusses erupt from my face hole.

My widow diet was a nightmare to match the uncertainty and humiliation of every day I was moving forward without my husband.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect back on my initial widow days. I’m four years widowed now, I’ve found my “chapter 2,” I just got engaged, I’m very active in the widow community, and as I meet new widows, I can’t help but realize so many patterns revolve around seeking food or alcohol as a temporary emotional cure.

My theory on The Widow Diet:

The widow diet is straightforward: it’s eating out of convenience, not the necessity. Whether it’s zipping through your favorite fast food drive-thru or a to-go order from the cheap Chinese restaurant down the street, it’s eating out of convenience.

We talk so much about feeling our feelings, cherishing our right to grieve, but why can’t we talk about dieting while grieving too?

Whether it’s suicide, heart attack, cancer, car accident, war, the need for FULL self-care is imperative, and this includes monitoring the widow diet. If you go out on a bender and the next day your grief is in full motion, don’t blame the company you keep for it. Blame the alcohol, which we all learned in school is a depressant!

Be gentle with yourselves, widows. Be kind to your soul and feed your souls adequately. Don’t hide behind the calories or unsorted thoughts from drinking.

When in a situation you cannot control–like losing a spouse–take the time to step back and evaluate the variables in your life that are within your control. Try using exercise as a means to curb your grief too.


Julia lost her husband in 2013 to a rare liver cancer when she was 28 years old. In the months and years afterwards, Julia continues to use her grief into a positive lifestyle change. She has been involved in NCAA Athletics for 14 years, and has continued to document her fitness, athletic and grief journey in her heartbreaking and honest blog The Unwanted W. Julia's journey has been featured in US Lacrosse Magazine, SoulCycle, and The Guardian. She currently writes for an online fitness and nutrition journal and works as a professional fitness instructor in Navarre, FL.

To contact Julia, please visit her website www.juliasteiercoaching.com or visit her Instagram for health tips at @juliasteiercoaching