10 Easy Recipes to Try When You’re Depressed and Struggling to Feed Yourself

10 Easy Recipes to Try When You’re Depressed and Struggling to Feed Yourself

If you have depression, even the simplest of day-to-day responsibilities can feel like a bit…much. That includes feeding yourself—and then repeating it the next day, and the next, and the next. When your energy is low, thinking about cooking regular breakfasts, lunches, and dinners can be draining, overwhelming, and straight-up unappealing.

Eating well can be tough if your hunger cues are affected too. A loss of appetite is one of the more common signs of depression, and many people with depression often go long periods of time without eating, Rachael Hartley, RD, certified intuitive eating counselor and author of Gentle Nutrition, tells SELF. But even if you may not feel like it, encouraging yourself to eat regularly can do more good than you might realize, Hartley says.

“While there is no diet that can cure depression, eating consistently throughout the day is helpful for maintaining energy and preventing fatigue,” she says. Hunger, low blood sugar, and certain nutrient deficiencies can all exacerbate symptoms of depression, she explains. Eating even the most basic combinations of fats, protein, carbohydrates, and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables can at least somewhat improve your mood, Hartley says. (Plus, beyond nourishing your body, eating food should be a delicious, joyful experience!)

Prepping food that checks those boxes may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be as big a process as you may think. Allowing yourself to take cooking shortcuts can help you get food in your belly without a ton of effort, Hartley says. Microwavable ingredients, store-bought condiments and sauces, pre-chopped produce, precooked proteins, and boxed grain mixes can all be perfect for quick and balanced meals. Keeping ready-made snacks on hand can also be clutch for times when your appetite just doesn’t feel big enough for an entire meal’s worth of food, she says.

For days when you do feel up to some food prep, Hartley created some meal ideas designed to deliver big flavors with the least amount of work. These 10 tasty recipes include fun takes on comfort-meal classics—think omelets, spaghetti, and fries—and they cover all your needs, from breakfast to dinner. None of these recipes require extensive time to prep or execute, and the ingredients are typically available in just about any grocery store. We also suggest doubling up some of these recipes so you have leftovers that can be reheated and ready in minutes. 


Brown Sugar Oatmeal Smoothie

Chelsea Kyle. Prop styling by Rebecca Bartochesky for Hello Artists. Food styling by Pearl Jones for Ashley Klinger & Co.

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