how to eat better when your mental health is trash.

how to eat better when your mental health is trash.

how to eat better when your mental health is trash. 150 150 Indoorsy // @fortheindoorsy

We’ve had a hell of a go of it the last few months, and I think we can all collectively agree that we have no idea what’s about to happen as our country starts re-opening — could be fine, could be not so fine. But we’ve all been feeling a bit more anxious than usual, and when this happens to me, the first thing to get disrupted is the small, very faint outline of whatever routine I thought I had.

I suck at routines. I’m genuinely horrible at doing anything with consistency, but before quarantine, I was going to the gym every morning. Not like once a week off and on, but every. 👏 morning. 👏 Like, I was literally so impressed with myself, then Queen Corona came and dethroned me.

But lately, my routine that has hurt the most has been eating (is that even a routine or just a basic necessity that I suck at?). I’m either not eating anything, eating brownie batter, or eating like a raccoon, rounding up those baked pea snap chips, some hummus, some stale crackers, maybe some babybel cheese, and calling that dinner. So unimpressive. 😒 I talk a big game on Instagram, but when I’m not cooking I am REALLY not cooking.

Sometimes anxiety can completely halt any momentum I had when getting my shit together. Safe to say the energy behind those daily walks and squat challenges wore off by March. But luckily, years of crippling depression has really taught me how to make feeding myself food that won’t kill me — dare I say it — *~EaSy~* (yes, I annoy myself).

But I know in some ways, we’re all the same, and maybe even in this way. So here are some tips I’ve heard or picked up that have basically made healthy eating mindless, because for me, that’s the trick. When my mental health is trash, I have to make sure eating takes literally zero energy or thought because my brain is already OVER. IT. Hopefully these help you a bit too:

STOCK UP ON ALL THE FINGER FOODS. YOUR SNACKS NEED TO BE WAITING IN THE WINGS.

Easy snacks are where it’s at. Pea crisps, snacking beans, Baby carrots to match your emotional maturity, nuts to match your level of paranoia — whatever it is, load up on healthy snacks and make them visible and accessible in your pantry or on your counter. Trail mix is a good one for this because when you’re feeling ultra lazy, it’s kinda sweet, kinda salty, not as sad as ritz crackers and celery, and somewhat filling. Keep this out on the counter.

WHEN YOU DO FEEL LIKE COOKING, GO OVERBOARD. LEFTOVERS SHOULD BE THE GOAL.

Leftovers are the only way I keep myself fed. And if you’re not a leftover person, well, just try it. I was never a leftover person, but when it comes to that or a box of Annie’s mac and cheese for the 5th time in a week, I find myself a little less reluctant. And speaking of Annie’s, the most enticing leftovers are generally the easiest to make: big things of pasta. Make it with a rich and creamy sauce that you get less sick of than standard tomato and that stuff will feed you for daysssss.

MY UNWAVERING RULE: 5 COLORS FOR EACH MEAL.

I’m a very principled person (weird for hating routines, I know). This is one I heard years ago that stuck and I pretty much am committed to it. Each meal I eat has to have 5 colors in it — not brown, beige, taupe, tan, dark brown, but 5 different colors. The thought behind this is that different colors = different nutrients, and so if you’re going to be doing the absolute least, make sure this principle is met. It’s the easiest most thoughtless way I’ve come to make sure I’m eating at least somewhat healthy — even if it means adding parsley.

I’M ON A 5-MINUTE CHOPPED EPISODE.

Okay, so this one’s weird. So it’s kind of like when you don’t wanna work out and people are like “just start and i BeT you won’t hate it !!!!” but then you try and you go outside and you realize you still hate it. So instead of that, I pretend I’m on an episode of Chopped and all I have is 5 minutes. I will literally set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and just start throwing stuff in a pan. My kitchen becomes a damn mess, but it takes out all the cognitive load because I just start moving without actually thinking “but will this go with this?” or “hmm what can I do with this, let me look at recipes for 1 hour before giving up and ordering take out.”. Admittedly, this one you have to be a little fearless and not afraid to eat something mediocre — I try to be somewhat inventive but even if it sucks, I only wasted 5 minutes, which also helps with my mental health because who can beat themselves up for a meal that was made in 5 minutes?

Ultimately I know things are just kinda shit right now, but I’m a big believer in trying, even if I fail or even if doing [whatever] totally sucks. Because what I personally hate more than doing the thing is the mental battle that results — we all know the one: where we tell ourselves “rest” is okay and then can’t discern whether it’s truly rest or me making an excuse. I can’t handle my brain bouncing back and forth trying to choose between logic and emotion, and at some point, I realize I would rather just do something, rather than keep thinking about it. And a lot of times, the most accessible things for me are my food choices.

You don’t have to get them all right, but I hope some of these tips (even the weird ones) can maybe help you take care of yourself.

1 Comment
  • Denise Bennett 05/22/2020 at 1:51 am

    Gosh-I think many of us can relate. I like how you keep it healthy even when it comes to snacking.

    Also love how you lay out your struggles but don’t wallow there. You call yourself on it for what it is (at that moment), analyze & strategize a more constructive action plan-and push yourself in that direction. Failure would be if you failed to do anything about it. Instead, you get up, dust yourself off and take steps to turn it around.

    For me, after first feeling paralyized in Covid 19 and a host of other fears, I quickly realized while there is so much I can’t control-there is still a lot I CAN. Pulling myself out of my serious fear-laced funkI started throwing myself into self improvement action steps including exercising, cooking and eating healthy, and taking steps to deepen my faith -a foundation to stand on. And I feel I still have some control. Helping me keep my sanity.

    I can’t lie. I still have moments of fear. Every day. Not just about me but others I love. And the regular life struggles didn’t get put on hold when Covid came along. Those are still there too.

    While we can’t control the circumstances, there is still alot we CAN control—-and what we do about them.

    How fast my perspectives have changed these last few months. I have found myself giving thanks for a lot more these days. Including tons of little things that are actually really big things. The breath in my lungs for instance. A good night’s sleep. Groceries. A back yard I can quarantine to when I need to get out of the house. Music. The fact I can sleep in my own bed and not a hospital bed. Prayer. Thankful that while I can’t “see” my family in person, I can still talk to them and “see” them in other ways. And on & on it goes.

    Do I want things to go back to normal? No, not exactly; not the old norm anyway. I’m looking forward to a new and improved norm-for ALL of us.

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