Peace, love and fibre called keys

Mairlyn Smith says embracing grief can help people process the pain and look after themselves.  |  Jeremy Simes photo

Mairlyn Smith says people should eat more of these fibre-rich foods:

Mairlyn Smith lost her sense of peace when her father died a few years ago.

Despite the pain, she motored through and returned to work, thinking everything would be OK.

When her mother died about a year later, however, it took a heavy toll on her well-being.

“It really affected me,” said Smith, speaking to farmers in late January at FarmTech in Edmonton. “I’m not sure why. She was my mom, but they were both now gone.”

Smith, a cookbook author and professional home economist, said she embraced her grief. Even though it put her in a hole at times, it allowed her to process her pain and take care of herself.

In doing so, she said her inner sense of peace began to return.

“I realized it was OK I didn’t finish my to-do list. I cancelled my speaking events because I couldn’t go out and say I was happy,” she said. “I gave myself that permission to grieve.”

During her presentation, Smith shared her personal story to show people that it’s OK to grieve and feel sad when they lose a loved one.

She said it can allow people to practice self-love, which means they are treating themselves with respect and kindness, in the same way they would treat a friend.

When people don’t embrace their feelings, deciding to store them away for later, it can come back to bite them, she said.

“You have to admit to yourself that you are under stress and that you need help,” she said. “You have to accept the feeling is real and authentic.”

But there came a time when Smith had to move forward.

She said a voice in her head told her it was time to get off the couch. She suspects the voice was her mother.

“If I hadn’t got off the couch I do believe I may have stayed on the couch forever,” she said.

There is a fine line between grief and depression, Smith added. She said if people are unable to pull themselves through fully, they should seek professional help.

Smith said she gave herself pep talks to get through the days. Over time, things got better. She threw a tea party with her many friends to celebrate her mother’s birthday.

She soon realized she was again practicing self-love, only this time it wasn’t on the couch.

“When you practise self-love, you have less anxiety, you have less depression and a more optimistic outlook,” she said. “My father was an optimistic man. He was always practising self-love.”

Smith said practising self-love naturally leads to healthier decisions.

She wrote her cookbook, Peace, Love and Fibre, with her own personal story in mind.

In the book, she recommends people eat more fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and pulses to increase their daily dose of fibre. The recommendation is 25 to 38 grams per day.

Flax seeds, which are rich in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, are especially important, she said. Research has shown they can help reduce risk of prostate and breast cancers.

She recommended people get up to two tablespoons per day, though cautioned them to take it slow.

“If you start with two tablespoons immediately, you’ll blow yourself out of the bathroom,” she said to much laughter. “When you eat more fibre, you’re going to need to drink a lot more water.”

Embrace the fibre

Mairlyn Smith says people should eat more of these fibre-rich foods:

  • pulses (black and kidney beans are particularly high in soluble fibre)
  • oats
  • barley
  • flaxseed
  • brussels sprouts
  • broccoli
  • sweet potatoes
  • eggplant
  • avocado
  • oranges
  • pears
  • apricots
  • apples

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