When food is too hard (my reply to an objection)

Content warning: This post is my reply to someone who reblogged calling some of my low-spoons food strategies lazy and unhealthy. Some of y'all might be better off skipping this one.



Anonymous asked realsocialskills:

Related to the remembering food exists thing, do you have any advice for what to do when your depression is making preparing food seem so hard that you’d nearly prefer to just go hungry?

A couple of suggestions:

Order a pizza, or some other form of food that gets delivered to you

  • Hunger feeds on itself and makes everything harder
  • If you’re in a state of mind where preparing food seems too difficult to be bearable, ordering food can often break that cycle
  • So can getting takeout or going to McDonalds
  • This is not a frivolous expense
  • And it’s not necessarily more expensive than preparing your own food. McDonalds has a dollar menu.
  • When you’re starving from not eating, it is not the time to worry about health food. Making sure that you eat comes first. Eating anything (that you’re not allergic to) is healthier than regularly going hungry because you can’t bring yourself to eat.

Keep stuff around that’s easy to eat and doesn’t require any preparation or only need to be microwaved, for instance:

  • A box of cereal
  • Chocolate
  • Granola bars
  • Ice cream
  • Popsickles
  • Protein shakes
  • Rice cakes
  • Peanut butter
  • TV dinners
  • Frozen chicken nuggets
  • It can also help to keep around disposable plates and utensils so the thought of having to wash dishes doesn’t deter you from eating

Get someone else to tell you that you need to eat:

  • Sometimes it’s easier to remember that eating is important if someone else tells you
  • For instance, if you text a friend saying “remind me that I need to eat” and they do, that can sometimes make it more possible

Get someone else to talk you through the steps of making food:

  • If there’s someone you can ask how to find/make food, that can be helpful
  • Sometimes what’s really exhausting is not so much doing the steps, as it is anticipating them, or figuring out what they are
  • If someone can help you through that, it can make it much more possible

watsonly said:

okay, this is a really good post but i do think someone should mention that defaulting to eating chocolate, ice cream, and tv dinners is really unhealthy and will probably only make you feel worse in the long run. i don’t know about you guys but eating a bag of chips feelings great in the moment but then 30 minutes later i just feel worse than before

so i give you a list of super fast and easy snacks that are inexpensive, yummy, and best of all will make you feel great (◕‿◕✿)

  • cucumbers. seriously, just cucumbers. maybe some salt on top
  • rice crackers oh my god they are so cheap and mmmmmm
  • apples, peaches, pears, grapes, any fruit really :)
  • plain yogurt with some warm honey drizzled on top
  • flavoured yogurt + granola
  • toast. everyone likes toast.
  • chickpeas! yeah, those weird things you always pass in the supermarket. mix ‘em up with whatever diced veggies you have in the fridge and put a splash of olive oil on top ;)
  • NACHOS. IT IS SO DARN EASY TO MAKE NACHOS. SERIOUSLY. DO IT. (tortilla chips + salsa + cheese + oven + 3 minutes)
  • some lovely campbells soup with soda crackers ^.^
  • eggs! fry ‘em, boil ‘em, mix em with some cheese and omelette them!
  • really just eat whatever makes you feel happy and healthy yo <33

oh, also, let’s not engage in any of this paper plate crap - WASH THOSE DISHES! seriously. rinse out your plate/bowl/cutlery when you’re done eating and do it later if you like. bUT DONT MAKE BEING LAZY AND ACCESSIBLE OPTION. PUT ON SOME MUSIC IF YOU LIKE. DANCE AROUND. USE WAY TOO MUCH SOAP SO THE WHOLE KITCHEN SMELLS LIKE SUNLIGHT. PRETEND YOU’RE ON A COOKING SHOW. DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO, JUST HAVE FUN WITH IT!


realsocialskills said:

There are some major problems with your advice. My post was for people who have trouble eating because the food logistics are very difficult for them. The problem here isn’t how to do what’s nutritionally ideal. The problem is how to make sure you eat and don’t starve, even when you’re so low on spoons that the thought of eating makes you want to cry.

Enjoying food is great. But avoiding starvation is more important. So is eating regularly enough to avoid cognitive side effects of hunger.

Most things that you have suggested are not viable for people who are having this degree of trouble eating. Here are some reasons:

Low calorie snacks are not a good solution for people who are having trouble eating enough food:

  • Defaulting to low-calorie foods is a great strategy for people who compulsively overeat and consume too many calories
  • But people who have trouble eating have the opposite problem.
  • What’s a healthy food choice depends on what your needs are
  • People who find it so difficult to eat that they’d often rather go hungry need strategies for making sure they get enough calories
  • For people who have that problem, defaulting to low calorie foods can actually be dangerous
  • Ice cream contains a lot more nutritionally essential things than cucumbers and rice cakes do

In a similar way, many of your suggestions are too difficult/exhausting/complicated for people who have this problem:

  • A lot of your suggestions call for fresh perishable ingredients. In order to eat that way, people have to be either capable of keeping ingredients around, or capable of going out and getting the ingredients whenever they need to eat. That’s often not possible.
  • Using a blender to blend something takes a lot of steps. And then you have to clean the blender, or it will make your kitchen disgusting. That can be a major deterrent to eating.
  • This is also true of making omelets and other things that require cooking. You have to have the energy and executive functioning to cook safely, and then you have to wash the pans.
  • Drizzling warm honey on top of yogurt is only viable for people who can heat honey and put it on something without making an exhausting mess.
  • Putting something in the oven and keeping track of it for three minutes *and successfully cleaning it up afterwards* isn’t easy or possible for everyone.

Some of your suggestions don’t actually make nutritional sense for anyone:

  • TV dinners are expensive, but they’re not necessarily unhealthy.
  • A lot of them are way more nutritionally balanced than a plate of nachos
  • And just about any TV dinner is better for most people than eating nothing but fruit and cucumbers

Paper plates and other disposables are necessary and important for some people:

  • Disability is a real thing
  • Not everyone can handle washing dishes
  • Trying to wash dishes can seriously damage some people’s health
  • Because it can deter them from eating to the point that they become malnourished
  • And it can also make it impossible for some people to maintain a sanitary living environment
  • Calling people who have this problem lazy doesn’t make the problem go away
  • But using disposable dishes does, for some people
  • People with disabilities have the right to eat and living in sanitary conditions

Fun and a light hearted positive attitude do not actually generate spoons or solve sensory problems:

  • If people are too exhausted to move and can barely handle getting up to make a sandwich, no amount of music is going to make it possible for them to wash dishes or make nachos
  • If the texture of water and dish soap makes someone want to scream, no amount of pretending to be on a cooking show is going to stop having to wash dishes from deterring them from eating
  • If someone finds almost all food unbearably repulsive, having an attitude that food is meant to be enjoyed is not going give them the ability to eat. Having access to the things they *do* find reliably edible will.
  • Sometimes people have good reasons for needing certain things to be really, really easy. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It just means they need to find easy ways to do things.

If you don’t have this level of difficulty with food, and you can handle eating more complicated and difficult things regularly, that’s great. But I wrote this post for people who need food to be as easy as possible so that they are actually able to eat it.