Your Mental Health Nutrition Guide (or what to do when you just *can’t* cook)

Intros suck.

Especially when it’s an intro about when your mental/physical/spiritual health is so poor you might:

  • Not want to eat at all
  • Not want to grocery shop
  • Not want to even leave the house
  • Have food in the house, but even boiling water for pasta feels impossible
  • OR just plain be SO busy because of random life events that you NEED something easy

Whether or not you suffer from depression/anxiety or any other mental health issue OR you just lost a loved one or went through a breakup, I hope this guide can help you.

Let’s get honest for a minute:

Oreos, chocolate, burgers and fries aren’t BAD by any means. They’re good for the soul, they can be comforting etc.

AND… when you aren’t at your peak physical or mental health you need micronutrients more than ever.

So if you’re gonna get that pack of Oreos… make sure you’re ALSO eating plenty of micronutrient dense food to support your physical & mental health that way too.

Just like how alcohol can help you feel better “temporarily,” but then the lasting effects of the alcohol (hangover, anxiety, more depression etc) can effect you for days… a burger and fries might give you a temporary dopamine spike, but eating a burger and fries every day of your depressive episode or stressful week might lead you to feel even more sluggish & depressed later.

The Incredibles Hangover GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Side note: this list will be 99% SALAD FREE. I equate salads a lot of the time with sad diet food & we’re trying not to be sad here.

Not to be TOO sciencey or technical, but there have been studies showing the positive benefits of micronutrient supplementation on mental health. (Here’s one if you’d like to read a research article)

(Also not trying to say that things like therapy, medications, etc aren’t also helpful. I do both ❤️)

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I count macros. Yes, many things on this list I could still “fit” into my normal macros. But really the point of this list isn’t to help you continue to diet–but to keep you EATING in a way that will nourish your body & mind to help you feel even just 1% better.

So without further ado THE LIST.

I’ll split it up into three sections:

NO EFFORT (takeout/doordash)

MINIMAL EFFORT (IE microwave meals)

LOW EFFORT COOKING (IE one pot meals)


  • Chick-fil-A:
    • 12 count grilled nuggets, but order TWO packs if you’re feeling depressed & have no appetite. That way you have food on hand for tomorrow too & don’t make an excuse not to eat
    • If you have slightly more of an appetite -> their grilled sandwich with honey roasted bbq sauce is great & you can get a fruit cup for micronutrients
    • If you’re sick: Chicken noodle soup
    • HYDRATION: if you’re like me, you might forget to drink water or anything when you’re feeling bad. Get a large ice water, coke 0, etc.
Grilled Nuggets Nutrition and Description | Chick-fil-A
  • Chipotle
    • My order:
      • Burrito Bowl with white rice, DOUBLE chicken, black beans, fajita veggies, green (medium) salsa, & sometimes lettuce.
      • I get double chicken because sometimes I can’t finish the bowl, so I have a meal for the next day available. OR sometimes it might’ve been my only main meal of the day so I need extra protein 😅
      • The nutrition on their website says my order comes out to 705 calories with 76g of protein, 19.5g of fat, & 64g of carbs
    • I’d argue that these are whole foods here plus you’re getting fiber from the beans & veggies to help with digestion (last thing you want is to be constipated with everything else you have going on!!) & some micronutrients from the beans, veggies, salsa etc.
    • Reminder: you don’t have to copy my order 🙂 I would recommend getting beans & veggies unless you absolutely hate them 😂
Life Lol GIF by Chipotle Mexican Grill - Find & Share on GIPHY
  • Smoothie King
    • Because sometimes you REALLY aren’t hungry, don’t care about food, & just don’t care. But friends, it’s important to eat. Smoothies make it easy since drinking something doesn’t make you feel as full as eating.
    • Benefits: all those glorious antioxidants & micronutrients from the fruit + protein!
    • My order:
      • Either the Blueberry Strawberry Activator, or the Strawberry Banana Activator (or sometimes I ask them to add a bit of banana in with the blueberry strawberry one)
        • Add a booster like their multivitamin or immune support for max feel good benefits
        • I typically get the medium, but EVERY size of this has 20g of protein minimum & the largest is only 520 calories according to their website.
The Activator® Blueberry Strawberry Smoothie | Smoothie King
  • Zoe’s Kitchen
    • If you have one near you, great! If not, I’m sorry. It’s basically Greek/Mediterranean fast-er food. No drive thru here, but it is the type of restaurant where you order at the counter, then sit down, so it’s fairly fast & door dash is wonderful
    • My order:
      • Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Turmeric Rice & Roasted Veggies + Tzatziki Sauce
      • 610 calories with 48g protein, 22g fat, & 56g carbs
    • They also have different sides like hummus, falafel, greek salads, fruit etc which would also be wonderful & full of micronutrients
Menu - Kabobs - Zoës Kitchen
  • Poke
    • Holy micronutrients is Poke a great idea if you’re feeling stressed, depressed, etc
    • Fish provide Omega 3s–which several studies have been done that show the anti-depressant effects of Omega 3s! There’s a whole bunch of other benefits like helping with inflammation, alzheimer’s, other psychiatric disorders etc, but you can google those <3
    • If you haven’t had poke before, it’s like sushi in a bowl
    • My typical order
      • Rice
      • MAX servings of protein (I usually get 3) & I get a mix of tuna/salmon/spicy salmon
      • Load up on all the toppings you like–most are fresh micros!
      • I get cucumber, kale, pineapple, mango, carrots, & avocado sometimes
      • Then you get to pick a sauce (I like ponzu if you’ve never tried poke before)
Insta-Hit: Poke Rainbowl from Pokeworks in Irvine and Laguna Niguel
  • Carrabba’s
    • Yes. This is actually macro-friendly Italian food.
    • I always get the Tuscan Grilled Chicken with a side of penne pasta.
    • You can get a minestrone soup too with your order if you’d like & they also do steamed broccoli
    • Plus if you get it to go they give you free bread + olive oil
Wood Fired Grilled Chicken - Picture of Carrabba's Italian Grill, Concord -  Tripadvisor
I could not find a better picture of the grilled chicken with penne!

MINIMAL EFFORT (IE microwave meals & grocery buys)

(Better yet buy frozen fruit so you’re not spending $10+ on a smoothie 😂)

Freezer finds.

Cooking sucks when you’re depressed. But microwaving might be manageable enough for you. Here are some things that don’t suck:

  • Precooked meats
    • Ideally frozen so you can buy them when you’re feeling fine & keep them around just in case
    • My favorite is Kroger brand Diced Grilled Frozen Chicken
      • Did you know Kroger stores are basically all over the US just with different names? I feel like it took me 25 years to realize that 😂
      • Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Foods Co, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Gerbes, Harris Teeter, King Soopers, Jay C Food Store, Pay-Less Super Markets, QFC, Ralphs, Smith’s Food and Drug are ALL “Krogers”
    • Other winners include Tyson Air Fried Chicken Tenders, Trader Joe’s frozen Turkey Meatballs
  • Pre-cooked sides
    • HEB specific:
      • Freezer section:
        • Frozen Couscous & Quinoa with vegetables
          • add some pre-cooked chicken to this and you have a whole meal
        • HEB homestyle whole baby potatoes
      • Refrigerated section
        • HEB pre-cooked shredded chicken breast
        • HEB ready meals (at the front of the store, they’re already either cooked or “just put in the oven” type meals
    • Trader Joes
      • Honestly this whole store is a GOLD mine for pre-cooked things. They’ve got pre-cooked balsamic chicken (delicious) in their refrigerated section, whole microwave meals like their Chicken Tikka Masala, & lots of pre-cooked frozen side options
    • Found many places
      • Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs
        • you feel like you’re eating fries, but still getting in that vitamin A & potassium
      • Chobani Flips
        • yogurt but make it dessert
  • LIQUID Calories
    • If you have ZERO appetite, at the very least I would encourage you to try drinking a few things like a protein shake, or a smoothie
    • Pre-made protein shakes
      • Premier Protein
      • Lean Body
      • (I haven’t tried either, because I used to drink fairlife before I learned about the cow abuse 😭)
    • Kombucha/Gatorade etc
      • Hydration is important friends. And I know it’ll be extra hard right now, so support yourself by keeping yummy drinks in your fridge so you’ll actually want to drink & hydrate yourself


I have already posted a smoothie bowl recipe here.

But what I did when I was at my lowest was 50-100g frozen banana slices, 50-100g frozen strawberry AND/OR frozen blueberry, a bit of almond butter (I did about 1/2 tbsp but it’s up to you, it won’t taste bad with more!) then one scoop of PE Science Vanilla Protein powder (discount code: emyogifit) & enough water/almond milk/coconut water to blend it all together (at least 1 cup)

LOW EFFORT COOKING (IE one pot meals)

Closing notes:

I wrote this as a blog post instead of an ebook because I want EVERYONE to have access to it whenever they need.

I also want to be able to add to it when I discover more!

If you have a suggestion for something that helps get you through tough times nutrition wise leave me a comment below, shoot me an email OR send me a direct message on Instagram.

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