Depression and weight issues go hand in hand. Some people lose weight when depressed while others gain because of changes in their eating habits. What do I do if I am so depressed that I can’t eat? Is it possible to delink weight issues from depression? This article addresses these questions and provides useful information on what to eat when feeling depressed.
So Depressed I Can’t Eat, Is It Normal?
It is normal to skip meals when depressed, but if you can't eat almost anything, you have to change your dining patterns or seek professional help to maintain a balanced and healthy life.
Your loss of appetite may be related to some common symptoms of depression such as fatigue, nausea, or losing energy and interest in activities such as cooking, eating, washing dishes, etc. The situation is worse for older people who may even be unable to prepare their meals.
In addition, you may forget to eat when depressed or get full with just a few bites. You often have to push yourself to eat. The change in eating habits leads to unhealthy weight loss. Hence, you need to take good care of yourself when depressed.
How to Maintain a Healthy Diet When You’re Depressed
Avoid the 3 food items
Many people turn to alcohol when depressed hoping that it will make them forget their problems and enhance their mood. But alcohol is a depressant and continuous consumption worsens depression in the long term.
Foods that contain added sugar make your sugar levels to fluctuate throughout the day, which leads to mood swings.
Caffeine may cause nervousness and anxiety.
Avoid alcohol when depressed, and eliminate added sugar and caffeine for two weeks to alleviate depression. You can add a little sugar and caffeine back to your diet if you do not experience any mood changes but avoid excess consumption.
Add supplements to your diet
Some nutrients such as vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate are beneficial to individuals fighting depression. You can increase your intake of foods that are rich in these nutrients or take supplements.
Fatty fishes, such as lake trout, salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna, are major sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources include walnuts, tofu, canola oil, and soybeans.
Folate is found in green vegetables, orange juice, beef, liver, beans, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B12 is found in milk, yogurt, fortified cereal or soy, red meat, sardines, eggs, clams, oyster, etc.
Keep track of what you eat
Keep a journal of all the foods and drinks you take in a day and the change in moods after taking them. Eliminate any foods that affect your moods negatively for some weeks and look out for any improvement in your mood after this change in diet.
Prepare some healthy snacks
Are you screaming "I am so depressed, I can’t eat"? Try stocking your kitchen with healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, fruits, hummus, nuts, whole-wheat crackers, and yogurt. Eat such snacks in between meals to get the needed nutrition.
Eat less but more frequently
Small meals served frequently are more appealing and easier to prepare than large meals. Prepare and pack foods in small portions with all nutrients that your body requires. For instance, add peanut butter to toast with jelly for proteins. If you like tuna fish, add cheese or tomato slices to get calcium and vitamins. Alternatively, take supplement drinks throughout the day.
Prepare appealing foods
You eat first with your eyes. Try to make your meal as colorful and appealing as possible.
Combine foods with different colors like pasta with red pepper or broccoli, or adding parsley springs on your plate. Include different types of foods in your diet and try new recipes to restore your interest in food.
A lot of people have a sweet tooth. Adding some sweetness to the food makes it more appetizing. You can have whole grain and cream cheese with some fruit preserve. Alternatively, you can blend lemon sherbet and lemonade with soda.
Your sense of smell affects your appetite. Add some spices or herbs to your meals to give them natural flavor.
Make it easily accessible
Make mealtime easy by stocking your kitchen with all the foods you enjoy. Cook meals that can go for several days or trade some with a friend. Record simple meal ideas in a book and refer to it when you want to prepare a quick meal.
Share the meal
Your appetite may increase as you share a meal with someone else. Try to have meals with friends and family. You can also visit a community center or meal center. Join a social group where people eat together like a dinner or lunch club. If your loved ones lost interest in eating because of depression, cook their favorite food and carry it to them as you visit them.
Know what to eat
Still have the feeling of "so depressed, I can’t eat"? You may be just eating the wrong foods. Try the following foods to increase your appetite and soothe your depression:
Turkey: It contains high levels of tryptophan chemical that stimulates the production of serotonin, which is a feel-good chemical.
Low-fat dairy: Low-fat dairy is rich in proteins, vitamin D, and calcium, which brings about a relaxed feeling in the body.
Green tea: The theanine content in green tea has anti-stress properties.
Whole grains: High-fiber carbohydrates improve your mood by stimulating the production of serotonin, making you feel better about yourself.
Walnuts: Walnuts are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that boost the overall health and function of the brain. Eating walnuts in moderation reduces the symptoms of depression.