Feeling tired and draggy? Not in the mood to cook? You are not alone. We hear this from clients all the time. You may be feeling down, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or maybe even all of the above and the last thing you want to do is prep a meal.
The thing is, it’s even more important to eat and fuel your body during times like this. Not eating enough can leave you feeling more irritable, anxious, lethargic, or moody and you may have difficulty concentrating or doing activities that bring you joy.
Nourishing your body and mind, especially when feeling low, is vital.
So how do you do this when your energy level is low and/or emotions are high?
Here are some strategies that you can try:
1. Keep it simple. Reaaaaaal simple. Think lunchbox-style easy. A meal that requires very little prep to put together and zero cooking. Need a couple examples? A PB (+/- J) sandwich with baby carrots on the side or a container of hummus that you can dip ripped up pita bread and raw veg into.
2. Graze throughout the day. Some find it more manageable to have small meals or snacks 5-6 times a day vs. prepping 3 main meals. Eating frequently throughout the day helps keep your blood sugars stable and prevents crashes that can lead to feeling draggy, hangry, and/or irritable. Need snack ideas? We’ve got you covered. Check out the bottom of this post for some ideas.
3. Eat what appeals to you. If you’re not feeling great and you only feel like eating sweets or savoury foods, eat them! It is SO much more important that you eat something, rather than nothing. Restricting meals and snacks increases chances of binging later on in the day (usually at night). Add some extra nourishment by pairing “craving” foods with a handful of nuts or other protein-rich food. This will help keep you feeling satisfied a little longer.
4. Add some quick nutrient-dense foods to convenience foods. Running late to an appointment or the kids have a game right after school? Toss some mini cucumbers or baby carrots or cherry tomatoes onto a plate with pizza slices or add some broccoli to KD. You are feeding/fueling yourself (and/or your family) and this is what matters the most.
5. Keep “grab and go” fruits and veggies stocked if your budget allows for it. These are the ones that don’t require any slicing, dicing, chopping, or prepping. Simply wash and eat (or pack)! I’m talking apples, oranges, clementines, baby carrots, mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snow or snap peas, mushrooms, radishes, bananas, pears. The list goes on. Save the bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, and salads for another day when you have more energy to prep.
6. Rely on your friend, "The Freezer". Frozen veggies and fruits are great options. Steam frozen veg in the microwave or throw some frozen berries onto yogurt for a quick breakfast or snack. Frozen meals that you can reheat and eat are another great option. On days when you might have a bit more energy, try making larger batches of meals to freeze for days that you don’t feel as up to cooking.
7. Give yourself grace. A quote that I like to share with clients is, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” by Theodore Roosevelt. If this is not a day or week or month that you have the energy to cook, that is totally OK! Maybe it means ordering in a little bit more or leaning on comfort foods. Listen to your body.
Here are some quick and nourishing meal and snack ideas that you can throw together in a pinch so that you don’t have to use up what little energy you have left on prepping a meal:
PB and banana roll-up (in a tortilla)
Tuna melts – tuna on crackers with cheese melted on top
Yogurt parfait – yogurt, fresh or frozen berries, granola
Crackers, cheese, raw veggies
Hardboiled eggs, grapes, crackers and cheese
Pita pizza – pita with cheese and favourite pizza toppings and cooked in the microwave or oven
Hummus with raw veggies (remember the no-prep ones from above?) and pita or naan bread
Sandwich or wrap with an apple or other fruit on the side
Bean salad with corn chips
Nachos – corn chips, salsa, veggies, black beans
Sheet meals – a quick search on Google for “sheet meals” will bring up thousands of meals that require only one pan to cook all components on. This is a great way to save on clean-up time because the protein, starch and veg are all cooked on one pan.
Instant Pot or slow cooker meals – our favourite recipes are the ones that involve one or two ingredients, like salsa chicken, which is literally just chicken and salsa that you throw in a slow cooker or Instant Pot and forget about until it’s done.
Need more ideas or looking for additional support? We are here to help!
We offer individual and group virtual nutrition consults to residents of Ontario and in-office appointments in downtown London, Ontario. Dietitian services are covered by most benefit plans. We also offer free 15 minute discovery calls so we can connect and see if we would be the right fit for one another!
If you’d like to learn more or work with us, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment online.