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The Symptom of Depression We Need to Start Talking About

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There are certain familiar symptoms of depression we often hear about, such as sadness, oversleeping or isolation. There are other symptoms though, that aren’t as out in the open, and I struggle with one of them.

I have difficulty feeding myself adequately.

I struggle to get enough calories, nutrients and variety. While these may seem like the symptoms of an eating disorder, and certainly can mirror them, for me, it isn’t about body image or weight.

This struggle stems from the lack of motivation that I experience during depressive episodes. There will be times that I’m hungry, but lack the will to make a meal. Other times I can’t fathom the thought of going to the grocery store, or taking all the steps necessary to prepare a dish — so instead I eat fast food. This issue reaches far into my life, and can cause additional depression and shame due to unstable blood sugars and my perceived inability to properly care for myself.

I recently had an appointment with a nutritionist, with the goal of discussing this problem. I wanted to learn some tips on the types of healthy and convenient foods I could eat, that would help me get my daily requirements. If I’m being honest though, the appointment was not at all helpful, and I felt very dismissed. In the end she told me to eat my vegetables, and photocopied 10 various articles and worksheets on meal planning and how to make soup. I left feeling that she didn’t understand my fundamental complaint, that I lack the energy to prepare things that are beyond one or two steps. I can’t very well make a soup, if cutting carrots feels the same as climbing a mountain. 

Unfortunately I’ve been left without a lot of answers, but it is an issue I continue to work on. I’ve discussed it in therapy, it’s on the radar of those around me and I do ask for help when needed. I want to be vocal about it, because I know I’m not the only person who lives with this symptom. It should be voiced so no one feels alone or ashamed.

Prior to my nutritionist appointment, I had started to gather a list of some easy food items, and subsequently have continued to add to this list. I’m aware that not all of them are the pinnacles of healthiness, but they are all convenient, which is my main criterion. So I’m going to leave you with my list as well as some additional tips that might be helpful. I’m interested to hear some of your meals and tips, so please leave them in the comments. Without further ado, I present to you my list:

Easy one and two-step meal and snack options:

1. Canned tuna

2. Cereal

3. Frozen dinners

4. Peanut butter

5. Hummus and crackers

6. Protein shakes

7.  Nuts

8. Granola bars

9. Eggs

10. Instant oatmeal

11. Precut veggie/fruit

12. Popcorn

13.  Soup

14. Bananas

15. Cheese

16. Premade salad

17. Yogurt

18. Sandwich

Ideas for when you have more ability:

1. Simple crockpot meals (Soups, Stews) 

2. Smoothies

3. Pasta and homemade sauce

4. Pita and baked fish

5. Omelets

6. Quesadilla

7. Pancakes

8. Stir-fry


1. Always cook enough to have leftovers and freeze for later

2. Eating something is better than nothing. If all you can manage is something that’s considered “unhealthy,” consider it healthy for the moment

3. Try to keep your kitchen stocked with foods you know you can and will prepare, to avoid the ease of takeout.

4. Don’t judge yourself for purchasing prepared items, especially if it makes your life easier. Precut fruits and veggies can remove a big step in cooking, and may allow you to get the nutrients you need.

5. Keep healthy snacks within arms reach in the areas you spend most of your time

6. Talk about it and don’t be afraid to ask friends or family for help

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Unsplash photo via Zulmaury Saavedra

Originally published: January 5, 2018
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