How to Feed Yourself When You Are Depressed

Depression sneaks into every aspect of your life and makes you not care about any of them. And yes, that includes food. Food is a prerequisite for life, which is why for many people it is one of the first victims of a depressive episode.

Friendly warning: This article mentions – but does not explicitly discuss – depression, eating and addiction disorders, and other mental illnesses. Bookmark it for later if you need to, and / or skim through the headings before diving into them. If you are going through a mental health crisis and need to talk to someone, there are several organizations that provide 24/7 crisis support and general counseling. is free. Send a text message to «START» to the number 741-741, to call The Crisis Text Line, or call on the hotline Trevor Project project on (866) 488-7386; Trans Lifeline can be contacted at (877) 565-8860 in the United States and (877) 330-6366 in Canada.

How depression can affect your diet

Appetite is easily dependent on emotional state, so food can be a source of constant suffering for people with mental illness. Depression affects your ability to feed yourself, but it’s very rare to fight depression alone. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and avoidant / restrictive food intake ( ARFID ), rarely occur without comorbid depression and anxiety disorders ; the same can be said for personality disorders, learning disabilities, chronic illness, drug addiction and alcohol dependence. Basically, any condition that makes it difficult to navigate life can ruin your relationship with food.

Many famous chefs have spoken candidly about their struggles with addiction and mental illness in recent years, and that’s a good thing. (Professional kitchens can be cesspools for physical and emotional abuse, self-loathing, and truly destructive alcoholism, among other things; the industry has long been demanding retribution.) However, the professional chef’s attitude toward the physical task of cooking depends on external validation that distinguishes him from experience. home cook. When I was driving the food cart – by the way, this was the lowest point in my lifelong relationship with mental illness – I never opened late once because I was too depressed to get out of bed. My job was to make other people happy when I cook, so every morning I would get my useless body out of bed for work by 6:30 am, no matter how depressed I was. However, when my own health and happiness is on the line, it doesn’t bother me at all.

What is Depression: A Guide

Garbage aside, I was incredibly lucky to have not only the addiction, but the safety net and the opportunities I needed to pursue a career in cooking. Along the way, I’ve developed a whole arsenal of recipes that I can rely on when being alive is almost unbearably exhausting. I hope you find something here to help, because no matter what your brain says, you must eat.

Level 0: lighter than shower

Depression is different for everyone, but losing the urge to shower is an almost universal symptom. So I categorized these suggestions in terms of relative lightness compared to taking off all of my clothes, standing upright for 10 minutes, washing my hair, face and body, wrapping my wet hair in a towel, drying off, brushing just my hair. -Slightly less damp hair into something close to “style” and putting on clean clothes. Here are some recipes that are much simpler than this.


If you can afford it, there is nothing wrong with bringing comfort food out of the air when you really feel like crap, especially if you can get more than one meal out of it. I never get bored with pizza, and when I’m really sad, I order it for several meals. The remaining slices are wrapped in foil and frozen, and then reheated in a skillet with a lid over low heat .

Fast food assorted

It is your responsibility to keep a supply of food in the home in case of an emergency. Choose what you truly, truly love, so that it feels more like pleasure than an unwanted consequence of the struggle to function; My favorites are Trader Joe’s Frozen Panir and Punjabi Eggplant.


Whether you’re using a rice cooker or a pot on the stove , good old white rice cooks quickly and satiates you. A bowl of white rice with butter and soy sauce is enjoyable, highly soothing, and unlikely to worsen anxiety-induced nausea. Using my Instant Pot as a rice cooker means I can cook the rice effortlessly with leftover food.

Miso soup

Every depressed person should keep miso in the refrigerator: gluten-free and vegan options are readily available, it never goes bad, and you can turn it into real food in less than five minutes. If you want to have a mug of soup, I pour a large ball of miso paste like tea with boiling water; For a more satisfying meal, I put the leftover cooked rice and a large mug of miso in a bowl, then add a little water and reheat in the microwave. (Bonus points for adding diced tofu and frozen broccoli or peas.) Anyway, I put some butter on top for a finishing touch – miso and butter combine like peanut butter and jelly.

Level 1. About as easy as taking a shower.

Removing cutting boards, knives and various measuring tools is often overwhelming for me, but using the oven is usually okay – as long as I don’t ruin the cast iron pans. I’ll admit that the difficulty categories are arbitrary here – your experience may vary – but this is a step up from level 0 and I don’t feel too much.

Eggs and carbohydrates

I eat two eggs with butter, toast and hot sauce for breakfast most of the time because it’s easy, tasty, filling and will stain one plate (I just wipe the pan when I’m done). Toast is optional – I love the crispy fried egg with white rice, soy sauce, and furikake, and a few years ago I went through a rather serious soft fried egg taco phase. If you eat eggs, learn how to cook them your own way so that you always have a protein-rich meal in stock.

Potstickers or boiled dumplings

Frozen dumplings from an Asian supermarket are a real MVP product: dumplings always make me smile and can be fried or steamed depending on my mood. Just be sure to check the internal temperature of the dumplings with an instant thermometer, and if you don’t have one, err on the side of a longer cooking time; the instructions on the packaging of my favorite varieties are shorter by a full five minutes.

Packaged macaroni with cheese

Annie’s white cheddar poppy was a childhood staple, but now that I shop myself, I go for good old craft. I don’t drink milk because it’s nasty, so depending on what I have, I’ll make a boxed poppy with sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or heavy cream. In fact, Greek yogurt is my favorite: its zestiness gives the powdered orange cheese a flavor more like real cheese and is high in protein.


With butter, caramel, drops of fake oily mucus, or smothered cheese: I’m absolute popcorn trash. To paraphrase a very wise friend, a bowl of cheese popcorn and a glass of wine are technically a complete meal: corn has fiber, cheese has fat and protein, and wine is considered a “product.” Cooking popcorn on the stove is easy and customizable ; Even if you have a microwave, this technique is well worth learning.

Level 2: harder than taking a shower

On a good day, I can carry a winning impulse from a successful shower to cooking. However, I try to keep it simple so as not to overexert myself and sob over the spoiled pancakes on the kitchen floor.

Dead simple baked goods

Personal hygiene is fun, but since I don’t buy many packaged snacks, I have to make my own dreams come true. Thank goodness for the four-ingredient peanut butter cookies (this recipe also works with Nutella, by the way) and the one-bowl cocoa brownies that are as light as cake mix but a billion times tastier.

Fried vegetables

The desire to chop vegetables is a very good sign, and there is no better vegetable than fried . I usually start in a cast iron skillet on the stove top and finish in a 425-450 degree oven, then squeeze some lemon juice on top before serving to maximize the result-to-effort ratio.

Grilled tomato soup and cheese

I would never be so presumptuous as to tell you how to grill cheese, but I’m afraid I must insist that you try Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Butter Sauce as a soup at least once in your life. When you do, I suggest the following two changes: simmer so it doesn’t thicken too much, and add a pinch of sugar and baking soda at the very end to neutralize any harsh, overly acidic tastes. Homemade chicken stock, crushed red pepper flakes and / or cream are all welcome. Pair it with the grilled cheese of your dreams – and possibly grilled vegetables – and savor the real food you’ve prepared for yourself because you deserve it.

Regardless of your mental health, keep this in mind: no diet can fix broken neurotransmitters, and this is not the place to say otherwise. The United States government does not view health as a human right, so it is understandable that Americans are imparting health benefits to food that border on mysticism – but the harsh reality is that food is considered the healthiest and most environmentally friendly. (terms for “morally correct”) are only available to people who are likely to already have medical care. Going vegan, paleo, or the Whole30 is just as likely to cure mental illness – that is, not at all – and criticizing other people’s food choices under the guise of caring for their health is a big time. member move. Be good; most of us are just trying to get through another day.

This story was originally published in 2018 and updated on February 13, 2020 and then on June 22, 2021, in line with current Lifehacker style guidelines.


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