Want to incorporate healthy eating habits into your life, but feel like your depression makes it impossible?
You know that certain foods do more for your body nutritionally, and could help you to feel better. But there is this cognitive dissonance that exists where you just can’t make that logical fact influence your behavior.
If that sounds like you at all, first off, this post is not meant to judge you in any way. Trust me, I have been in darker places than I would wish on my worst enemy. I know what it’s like to feel as if you’re not able to make good choices for yourself.
Your depressed feelings are totally valid and legitimate.
Second, I want to tell you that it is possible to change your behavior patterns. No matter what distorted version of reality your mind has you trapped in, you absolutely have the ability to change.
Granted, it’s not easy, and it definitely takes time. There is no magical pill that will cure depression in an instant. If there was, I would be first in line, and I’d get a second mortgage on my house to afford it. But it is possible to feel well enough to make some small changes here and there.
In this post, I am going to piggy back on my recent article about meal planning for people with depression, and offer some easy and healthy recipes that don’t take too long to throw together.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I am also not a nutritionist. Just someone who has lived with depression and anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. And who has talented Google fingers. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
Another quick disclaimer about healthy eating
This post is not meant to further promote the dangerous diet culture that society has put us in. Eating disorders are a sad byproduct of diet culture, and these disorders wreak havoc on people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
If you are not familiar with eating disorders and how they affect people, here are some current statistics from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
- At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.
- Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder.
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
- 13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviors.
- In a large national study of college students, 3.5% sexual minority women and 2.1% of sexual minority men reported having an eating disorder.
- Eating disorders affect all races and ethnic groups.
Keep that in mind as you read this. Healthy eating should not be about losing weight unless your doctor has directed you to lose weight for medical reasons. It is about feeling good, and supporting your various bodily systems to enhance your quality of life.
Now that we got that sorted…
9 easy and healthy recipes for people with depression
I don’t want to overwhelm you with ideas. I know sometimes I have that problem. How about you?
You open up a blog post about self care ideas or something, and there are like 300, and it just makes you feel more overwhelmed than you were to start out with.
For that reason, I will keep this as simple as possible. I want to give you enough ideas that you can rotate through a few for each meal without feeling like you need to make the same thing every single day.
Easy healthy recipes (breakfast)
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. My husband rarely eats breakfast, and I just look at him like he’s from Mars. I am not about that life. If I don’t eat breakfast within an hour of waking up, I am a grumpy gus and it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
According to WebMD, it is very important to start your day with a healthy breakfast. So, if you’re like my husband, no judgment. But start eating breakfast! Here are some of the benefits, according to the article:
- It fuels you for the day ahead
- It helps you maintain a healthy weight (although this should NOT be your main focus- See my disclaimer about the harmful effects of diet culture above)
- Eating breakfast can also help you control your blood sugar
- It’s good for your heart
- It helps you perform better at work and school
- Eating breakfast daily helps set you up for success in all areas
Here are 3 easy breakfast ideas that don’t cost a lot or take a super long time to prepare. They are definitely favorites of mine.
- Mini omelettes in a muffin tin The concept here is really simple. Just use a muffin tin and mix together eggs, cheese, and veggies of your choice. Make the whole muffin tin, so you have enough for the week. (Click link for full recipe and instructions.)
- Oatmeal protein bites Okay, so there ARE chocolate chips in these. But they are packed with protein to give you energy for your day, and you can use dark chocolate to make them healthier. And again, you can make enough for the week and just eat a few each morning. (Click link for full recipe and instructions.)
- Cheesy eggs with a side of fruit. This is maybe my all time favorite. Just scramble up some eggs with shredded cheese mixed in, and added some sliced up fruit to your plate as a side and VOILA. Literally takes 5 minutes and really healthy.
Easy healthy recipes (lunch)
I like eating some version of a salad for healthy lunch. Here are 3 of my favorites that I’ve discovered in the past:
- A literal taco salad. So, this is exactly what it sounds like. A salad with taco ingredients. Basically, a taco without a shell. To keep it as healthy as possible, I just do lettuce, taco meat, and cheese. The hardest part is just browning the ground beef and adding the seasoning.
- A buffalo shrimp salad. Okay, I gotta admit, I just made this up as I went along, but it was super easy. Just heat up some pre-cooked shrimp, coat it with buffalo sauce, and throw it on lettuce. It was delicious!
- You can also get some diced pre-cooked chicken from the store, and throw it on some lettuce with shredded cheese on top. You can also add extra veggies like bell peppers. Red bell peppers are high in Vitamin C!
These are just some ideas, but salads are so versatile. You can really use your imagination here!
Easy healthy recipes (dinner)
My go tos for a healthy dinner are some form of meat and vegetables. There is so much you can do with that. But here are 3 simple ideas that you can rotate throughout the week and create plenty of leftovers for.
- Jalapeño popper chicken with steamed broccoli. The chicken is not super low-cal, and I’ll admit, the hasslebecking takes practice. But it’s good protein and delicious. My kids even love this.
- Broccoli chicken baked casserole. It wasn’t super hard and it has your protein, dairy, and veggie servings all in one! My kids really liked this as well, as even at 5 and 3.5 they seem to be in a broccoli phase.
- Low carb keto taco casserole. This was delicious too, and satisfied my craving for junk Americanized Mexican comfort food! You can make this as spicy or bland as your tastes prefer.
Here is a simple meal planning guide you can download to help you plan out your week. I’ve found that meal planning is a really easy way to take the stress of out eating healthier. Download them and stick them to your fridge so you don’t lose track of them!
Healthy eating habits are really important for managing your depression symptoms.
Like I said earlier, I know all this is super hard. I’ve gone through seasons of my life where I’m one bad spell away from being an Emily Dickinson poem. But listen: healthy eating matters.
And it’s not like a weight management thing, because like I said above, diet culture is garbage anyway. Look how you want to look. I honestly couldn’t care less.
What I do care about is how you FEEL. And the truth is, the better you eat, the better you feel physically. If you eat only pizza and Oreos, you will- over time -likely not feel too hot even on your best mental health days.
So, do yourself a favor and at least try this method. Start with one meal a day and go from there. You can also check out this video for some other ideas!
Where do you struggle the most with healthy eating? Is it a taste thing? Or a time thing? An energy thing? Let me know in the comments, and make sure you share this post on social media if you found it helpful!