There are days when the existential (or life-event) depression becomes crushing, like a visceral weight in your chest making it difficult to breathe. Every motion feels like its underwater. Your skull seems to be floating outside of your body. Maybe you’re suffering from an illness, a loss, a kind of Kafka-esque nightmarish awareness of your environment. Maybe it’s PTSD, or a night job, or lack of money.


There’s no easy cure or simple fix for depression, but there is food.


Does that sound blase, or stupid? Like it’s taking a serious issue and trivializing it? I’m not. Learning how to enjoy things and self-regulate is an essential part of pulling yourself out of depression.


We’re sensory creatures. That means we have the ability to interact and be modified by the environment and the stimuli around us. And since we’re biological, our moods can trigger when something is wrong and we need to address it – whether we’re hungry, tired, or sick. Food is a relatively simple way to engage in a sensory experience, and enacting a change in the body can create a change in mental processes. (The underlying foundation behind Somatic Therapy)


Here are some of my go-to meals when I’m feeling like a character in a Sartre novel. (I.E, disconnected and depressed as hell) When I’m feeling especially down I like to eat slowly, with focus, savoring each bite, bringing myself out of the hellscape that is my mind and into the sensory world.


Roast Chicken and Brie

This is a simple meal that will make you feel like possibly, you’re sophisticated enough to get your life together. You can roast your own chicken fairly easily, but whenever I cook my own I can never quite get the crispy flavor of a $6 roast chicken from the grocery store. While you’re at the store, pick up a slice of brie, some fancy bread like sourdough, and chianti. Lay out your feast on your dinner table (or work desk) like you’re a medieval noble and dig in.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Grilled cheese and tomato soup reminds me of a home that I never had, in a white house in an idyllic countryside, where the stars were big as fists and memories of my parents are colored in sepia. Every bite feels like warm healing, like I’m repairing the layers of my psyche.


Okay, maybe I just really love cheese.


The great thing about grilled cheese and tomato soup is that you can experiment with different flavors and breads, and although the components are simple you can get wildly varying tastes. You can make a simple grilled cheese with Kraft single slices and white bread, or you can try a sourdough grilled cheese with havarti, aged cheddar, and goat. I also like to spread mayonnaise on the bread for added flavor, and put fresh basil in the tomato soup. Don’t forget to dip the grilled cheese into the tomato soup.

Macaroni and Cheese

Yes, more cheese. Kraft macaroni and cheese might’ve been my favorite meal growing up as a kid. I can remember crying because I was hungry and it wouldn’t cook fast enough! It’s also one of the first things I ever learned to cook. I still enjoy some kraft macaroni every now and then, I’ll never be too good for velveeta or processed cheese, but now I like to make my own and experiment with different flavors.. Now I generally use whole wheat pasta, a white and a yellow cheddar, butter, garlic and salt, tuna, green peas, and sriracha.


Peanut Butter

I don’t know what it is about peanut butter, but George Washington Carver must’ve made some kind of unholy bargain with a god to bring it to us. It’s delicious in a way that makes me feel like I’m cementing the holes inside my soul.  It’s full of calories, but dense, so I always get full on it. Eat it in whatever form you like, in a peanut butter sandwich, in a smoothie, on crackers. I like to eat it straight from the jar, preferably at 3 A.M when I wake up and want to munch on something in the middle of the night.

Beer and Gummy Worms

Okay, so this isn’t really a meal per-se, but sometimes you need something unwholesome, something with a little “imp of the perverse” taste to it. You don’t really have the stomach for a full meal, but you want something flavorful, or junky, or sweet. When you eat like this, you’re telling yourself that it’s okay to not eat clean and healthy ever once in awhile, that you need to feed your soul as well as your body.  I like to eat this “meal” first thing in the morning. Sometimes if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll get a nice beer like delerium tremens. People say that drinking beer in the morning first thing makes you an alcoholic or means you have serious issues, which is probably why it tastes so delicious then/


Some alternatives to the gummies: chips, popcorn (with hot sauce), peanut butter pretzels


I really don’t need to explain this one, but I will. It’s the perfect combination of such soothing foods as cheese, bread, and (maybe) meat – everything designed to make humans feel good.


Stir Fry

Do you feel too tired and worn out to leave the house, but want a tasty meal? Do you have a fridge full of foods that you haven’t eaten? Heat up a pan. Dash a little butter or olive oil into a pan. Add onions, maybe a meat like shrimp. Toss in whatever vegetables you have in your vegetable drawer or freezer. Basically, you can put any kind of vegetables/meat into a stir fry and have it taste pretty good, as long as you season it properly.


Earl Grey and Lemon

For some people, depression makes them want to eat. Many people have a binging issue. When they get sad, they recognize that food can affect the chemiacls in their brain, so they begine. For me, it has a tendency to do the opposite. I get numb, withdrawn. When I get depressed, I usually don’t want to feel better. Maybe it’s because of my eating disorder past. Maybe it’s just because I’m wired differently to begin with. Whatever the reason, sometimes my stomach and my mind are aligned in wanting absolutely nothing. In that case, it always helps to hydrate. Recently, I’ve found that I like hot earl grey with a lemon, although any hot beverage would do – even if it’s just water. The warmth is soothing, and I don’t actually have to consume anything with calories.

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