Eating Healthy When You Don’t Feel Up To It
For many of us, eating is more than just fueling up – it’s a way of relaxing with coworkers, catching up with family members at the end the day, or spending time with friends. But sometimes eating meals or having a snack is the last thing you feel like doing, particularly when you’re not feeling well.
You may not have an appetite, you might feel nauseous, or you may not have the energy to prepare a meal or to eat it once it’s in front of you. But healthy eating is important at the best of times; it’s even more important when you are ill or your body is stressed. How can you ensure to get that much needed nutrition when you just can’t eat?
Here are some tips that may help you boost your nutritional intake, without making meal time another added stress to your life:
Baby steps and snacks
We’ve all been taught that we should eat “three square meals a day,” but for some people, more frequent, smaller meals and snacks throughout the day are a better fit. So if you can’t handle the idea of eating a bigger meal, don’t force yourself. Make smaller, more easy-to-digest meals to eat more frequently throughout the day. A good trick is to use small dessert or salad plates for your food. Larger plates can look overwhelming when there’s food on them – but a smaller plate may be just right for you.
Don’t wait until you are hungry to eat
Unless you are nauseated and are unable to eat, schedule eating times even if you’re not feeling hungry. Chances are, you’ll be able to eat at least small portions of your meals.
Fuel up on fluids
Consider making yourself smoothies for a meal or snack, which can contain whichever fruits and vegetables you want. These can give you some much needed fluid intake, and nutrition along the way.
Prepare ahead of time
Try to prepare some of your favorite meals and snacks, so you have them handy when you need them. Freezing meals in individual portions allows you to thaw them out and reheat them later on.
Meet with a dietitian
If you’re really stumped for ways to eat more healthy foods, or you’re having difficulty with choking or swallowing, you may benefit from meeting with a dietitian. A dietitian can offer ideas specific for your situation, including recipe and alternative food preparation ideas. A dietitian can also help you find foods that may be safer and easier for you to swallow. Your doctor or nurse practitioner can often provide you with a referral for a dietitian. In some communities, drugstores and local clinics have dietitians who they can recommend.
If foods don’t seem to taste the same, try new or different foods – the different tastes may be appealing. If you have a bad taste in your mouth, try drinking water before and during your meal. Using plastic utensils may help if you have a metallic taste in your mouth.
Eating can still be a time to connect
Since so much of our social lives can focus on food, having no appetite may make you feel left out of some events. You can still be part of the group, even if you don’t feel like eating.
- Sip water. By having a glass of sparkling or tap water, you will have something to hold, and you’ll also get some hydration slowly, but surely.
- Share a meal with a companion, request half-portions, or ask if you can order a child’s meal. Take small bites and don’t push yourself to eat everything.
- Be honest with your companions. If the smell of certain foods makes you feel nauseous, tell your companions so they can avoid ordering them or serving them if they are entertaining.
- If you’re visiting others, bring what you know you can eat.
You have enough on your mind – hopefully some of these tips will give you one less thing to worry about as you establish better eating patterns.