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Dealing with Distress #2food

When you are dealing with distress it is hard to think long-term.

  • Especially when the distress goes on and on.
  • And our bodies and souls are effected.
  • Distress is tiring and draining.

In this post I offer some ideas about eating well so that you have the energy to deal with your distress as well as you can. In the next post I plan to offer some ideas about exercise.

So here are some ideas for maintaining a (relatively) healthy diet that don’t require much energy, attention or fuss.

All the Competing Advice
There is a whole industry – and numerous very lucrative sub-industries – devoted to dietary advice. Not all of which are compatible. You could easily spend your life trying out each new piece of advice.


What to do?

1. Find what works for you

Keep a food diary, note absolutely everything that goes into your body. Note how you feel and how your energy level is.

This can get a little complicated.

  • If you stop drinking coffee and you get a headache this may be good reason for stopping rather than starting again. It may well be worthwhile consulting the health professional you trust about these kinds of reactions.
  • It may be that if you get good feelings from a change it is due to the removal of toxins. If so the change will be temporary and it may not be wise to stick to this particular dietary change.


2. Where to start
Keeping a food diary and such can feel like a lot of hassle. So I have some practical suggestions. These are guided by two sets of guidelines – the first from Michael Pollan, the second from me.

  • 2a. The most practical and useful dietary advice I know comes from Michael Pollan (In Defence of Food): eat food, mostly plants, not too much.
  • 2b. to which I would add, cheap and convenient.


3. To-do’s (and Don’t-Do’s)

Don’t buy it. You know what I mean. If it isn’t in the house you probably won’t eat it.

Grains are easy to fill up on and don’t have too many calories. They provide a good base for a diet. Rice and pasta can be fairly quick and easy to prepare. And you can make the rest of a simple meal while they cook. So long as you don’t drown them in excessively fatty and sugary sauces. Which brings us to;

Add flavour. Herbs and spices add interest to our food, which means we may be less likely to overeat. Have some close to hand. (If you eat pre-packaged food it is probably a good idea to steer clear of salt. Throw away the salt shaker or put it somewhere you can’t easily get at.)

It is hard to put on excess weight by eating fruit and veg.

  • Some fruit can be eaten raw and with little preparation. Have a fruit bowl well stocked with your favourite fruit.
  • Throwing root vegetables in the oven and baking them is easy, and provides delicious and nutritious results.
  • Vege’s can be easily steamed or boiled.
  • Eggs are quick and easy and are a good source of protein.


Take 20 minutes to eat.

Which means eating in ‘courses’. Our bodies seem to take about this long to know that we are satisfied.

  • As you begin to prepare your food have your first ‘course’ – a piece of fruit or cheese, a slice of bread, whatever.
  • Then the main course.
  • A beverage of some kind.
  • Then desert: fruit, a teaspoon of honey or jam (by itself or on bread).
  • This should fairly easily add up to 20 minutes.


Avoid prepared meats – unless you want to put in the time and effort to find the healthy ones.

Buy prepared meals rather than one-food prepared food. This saves the bother of thinking about things.
You can get pre-prepared meals with a mix of protein and vegetables.


The microwave can be your friend.
Because it is usually fairly quick and easy. It may not be the idea way of cooking but it is way better to nuke something in the microwave than eat your way through bags of potato chips.

  • You can get sachets of vege’s that can be cooked in the microwave from the freezer in a couple of minutes.
  • You can get a pre-prepared meal that you can heat up all at once.


The freezer can be your friend.
Stock up on healthy stuff that you can pull out and stick in the microwave and oven.
You can get some (relatively) healthy convenient food from the supermarket.

If you are shopping for something for the next meal look for things that are marked down. Things marked down for quick sale can lead to big savings – as long as you are going to eat them immediately.


Use small crockery; if you have a choice.
Bizarre but true: We eat more if the plate is bigger. (Which is presumably why the plates at the salad bar are usually small.)


If you need to put on weight. (Being distressed can mean losing interest in food and not wanting to be bothered eating.)

  • Use olive oil to cook with. Consider putting it on your bread instead of butter – if you don’t mind the taste. It will help with cholesterol and also put some weight on.
  • Put sauces on your food. Look for the healthier options in the supermarket. You can make your own if you prefer.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds.


If you need to lose weight.

  • Fill up on fruit, veg. or grains (without sauces). Ideally a mix.
  • Add herbs and spices rather than fat or sugar to give flavour.
  • Replace alcohol and soft drinks (sodas) with lower calorie options that have some flavour. Teas, coffee (weak or in moderation), perhaps cordial that water is added to.
  • Don’t buy it – you probably won’t eat it if you have to go out and buy it.
  • Have healthy snacks conveniently located – a fruit bowl, fruit purees in the fridge rather than ice-cream in the freezer.


If you cut out the junk food this will do most of what you need to do to eat healthily.


To sum up: Make healthy the easy option.


Would love to hear your: tips and hints, thoughts and disagreements or agreements in the comments.

I'm Evan Hadkins. To find out how to live a more satisfying life you can download my manifesto on living authentically. It is a book of exercises to guide you to finding, nourishing and living from the core of who you are.

If you would like me to write about some aspect of living an authentic life please don't hesitate to get in touch. There is a box in the sidebar where you can leave a question anonymously if you wish, or you can email me, use the contact page, or comment on this post.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Chris Edgar 2013/06/19, 11:25 am

    Good to see you again Ev. I like the emphasis on the fruit and vegetables — they’re one reason I think I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in at the moment. I’ve also taken to eating a larger number of smaller meals so that all f my energy doesn’t get devoted to digestion in the middle of the day.
    Chris Edgar recently posted..On Sincerity and SurvivalMy Profile

  • Evan 2013/06/19, 2:02 pm

    Hi Chris, good to hear from you; and to hear that you are in good shape!

  • Chloe 2013/06/22, 12:15 am

    Great post. Eating longer, smaller portions and whole foods – it’s all part of the formula. Thanks.
    Chloe recently posted..7 Reasons to Start a Sugar Detox Program TodayMy Profile

  • Evan 2013/06/22, 8:56 am

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting Chloe.

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