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Wellness is work
Let’s face it: mental wellness is a never-ending maintenance project. And I hate maintenance projects. That’s part of the reason I lose patience with cooking and laundry: there is never an end after which I can take a break until the next time (ps- heavily considering meal prep as I understand this will allow me to do minimal fuss during the week). The problem is that despite where I am in my mental health cycle, I still have to eat. That leaves me with only a few options if I want to eat: I can cook, order out, or starve. Each has its own benefits
How are we eating?
Cooking is less expensive but requires effort/executive function/time, so not always practical. Takeout is wonderful, especially when you can have it delivered, but that usually equals a hefty delivery fee and a not-so-healthy food option. Good for the tastebuds, bad for the budget. And as far as starvation? No. Nah. Newp. I have a figure to maintain, that’s out.
What are our other options?
There is another option that we need to take into higher consideration. Sometimes we need to be aware of the problem before it gets too big and head it off by finding foods we can eat when we are too depressed, or stressed, or distracted, or busy, or anxious, or whatever obstacle is stopping you from eating. So we need food. Food we can eat at home that we don’t have to cook. Sometimes our brain says no to cooking, but we still have to say yes to eating.
Actual foods you can eat
When we cut out cooking, our health can suffer if we aren’t mindful of the need to get healthy food options into the house and keep them available. The lure of convenience foods is real. Keep these options from the produce section in the kitchen and eat them up.
- Salad mix – mine usually goes bad at the bottom of the fridge, but I hear people actually eat it.
- Cut up veggies – Celery sticks, carrots, radishes, broccoli whatever tickles your fancy
- Salsa – I like the super fresh stuff in the produce aisle
- Any kind of canned veggie
- Any kind of frozen veggie
- Steamer bags of vegetables that you can pop into the microwave
- Fresh fruit – it doesn’t get any better than this. You wash it, and eat it. That’s it!
- Dried fruit – if you’re concerned about food going bad, this is a way to keep your fruit for far longer.
- Seasonal produce – yes, I know this isn’t necessarily its own category but if you buy seasonal and local you’re supporting your local economy and that is so important and the food is SO fresh. So consider it.
- Juices – those wonderful fresh juices that they have in the produce section can be tasty and healthy if you’re good about reading labels so you can avoid the extra sugar intake
Another place in the grocery store that you will score big on things to eat but not cook is in the deli. There are all kinds of good meats, cheeses, and other items that can help keep your belly (and pockets) full. Try these out!
- Deli meats – Ok, the obvious thing, if we’re being healthy, is to be careful of the sodium, but deli meat can be eaten on a sandwich or solo and you’re getting some protein in your body which is necessary.
- Salads – Every deli counter has a case full of salads for you to choose from, like potato, macaroni, broccoli, pasta, etc. These can make a handy side dish to round out a meal with a sandwich.
- Hummus – there are as many brands of hummus as there are stars in the sky. I LOVE hummus.
- Cheese – not just the sliced cheese for your sandwich, but the specialty cheeses. You’re depressed and can’t cook, treat yourself to some decent cheese, for goodness’ sake.
- Pasta – ok, you have to cook just a little but it will only be to boil water.
- Rotisserie chicken – chicken is so versatile, and buying a pre-baked chicken makes all the difference
- Salami/Prosciutto – they deserve their own category because they aren’t mere deli meats, they’re just delicious!
- Pre-cooked meals – most deli sections have a hot food section that has pre-cooked meals and sides. There’s always a good chance that there will be something prepared that will tickle your fancy.
This might require just a little cooking on your part, but if you love seafood it will be worth the sacrifice. In the seafood section, they will be able to steam your shellfish, you’ll have access to the frozen foods that you can pop in the oven, and the soups that you can just heat up. You’ll be eating well.
- Steamed shrimp
- Seafood salads – many seafood sections have shrimp and seafood-based salads in their section instead of deli.
- Frozen crab cakes
- Fish Sticks – pop them in the oven and they’re ready to go!
- Steamed Mussels
- Frozen Clams Casino
- Steamed Crab legs
- Cream of Crab Soup
- Clam Chowder
- Prepped Seafood
It is a little more difficult to find meals that you don’t have to cook in the meat section of the grocery store, but it isn’t impossible. All it takes is a little dedication, and you’ll get exactly what you need.
- Hot dogs
- Frozen chicken strips
- Bacon – remember, you can buy bacon fully cooked in the meat section
- Frozen meatballs – heat them through, season them and add sauce, and you have a solid meal
- Fully cooked chicken – add it to salads, quesadillas, whatever floats your boat
- Pre-cooked sausages
- Pot pies
- Ready-made pulled pork
- Ready-made buffalo wings
The bakery is one of my favorite places. I have never met a piece of bread I don’t like. You can find wonderful things in the bakery without loading up on all the cake, but don’t forget to treat yourself!
- Sandwich bread
- English muffins
They’re not always the best things for your health, but you have to eat and sometimes it has to be the most easy thing possible. Convenience foods allow you to get the grub in the fastest way possible.
- Chicken Voila
- Fruit Packs
- Canned Chicken
- Canned Tuna
- Canned Soup
- Canned Stew
- Heat and serve dinners
- Canned spaghetti
- Instant Grits
Cheese and yogurt and all the trimmings. Dairy is wonderful for you. Eat up, enjoy.
- Cheese – I have no problems cheese can’t cure. I love to cut up chunks of cheese to snack on.
- Yogurt – There are a million different ways to get your yogurt. I like greek because: protein
- Butter – for toast, honestly. And my instant grits
- Milk – because that cereal needs it
- Cream cheese- for your bagels
- Drinkable yogurt – totally worth it on the go
Frozen food is excellent because it keeps better. Frozen food can be stored for ages, and you have a wide variety of items to choose from.
- Fruit for smoothies
- Ice Cream
- Italian Ice
- French fries
- Mashed potatoes
- Instant frozen meals
- Frozen soup
- Pot pies
- Hot Pockets
Snacks are important for when you don’t even have the energy to heat something up. Make sure that you are careful because eating too much snack food, especially if they aren’t healthy snacks, can actually make you feel worse.
- Fruit Snacks
- Rice Cakes
- Bel vita
- Granola bars
- Chips and dip
Sometimes I have a terrible time with my tummy. Nausea when I’m anxious. Or I have a headache. Or I don’t have much of an appetite. On those days, I need to be able to eat SOMETHING even though I want nothing. Try these for when you have those days.
- Bananas – I can’t eat them (allergic), but you can.
It is important to get the nutrients you need. Unfortunately, sometimes our health provides a blockade to us getting a proper meal. Use this list as a guide to help you keep yourself fed when you’re feeling less than yourself.
Until next time,