Anyone who struggles with depression knows that a lot of days are spent not wanting to get out of bed at all. Personally, I would have a lot more of those if I didn’t drag myself to lectures everyday – which is mainly fuelled by anxiety telling me that my attendance will take a hit if I skip a lecture.

But even then, the lowest days that I have had so far take a toll on my appetite and I end up skipping a lot of meals – which is really, really bad. Either I skip meals or I end up eating a lot of junk, which was the case over a year ago. But then I stopped drinking soft drinks (apart from the occasional sip maybe once a week), and chips and other sugar-loaded junk followed right after. Not that I completely cut off all of those, I still eat them, but only occasionally – I don’t turn to them every time I skip meals or I’m having one of those low days.

I still end up skipping a lot of meals that the mess serves but I did come up with ways to make sure that didn’t affect my daily nutrition intake. I had to, because I found out I was severely lacking in several vitamins, which may have also spiked up my anxiety and depression, leading to having more depressive episodes than I normally do.

So here are a few ways I made sure I eat:

1. Sprouts 

Moong dal (the green kind) is easy to get – in your nearest grocery store, or D-Mart if you will – and a 500 gm packet will last you a month. Take a handful and a little more, soak in water for 12 hours and soak for more if you want it to sprout. Change the water every 12 hours, and make sure you finish this handful within a day if you don’t have a fridge to store it in. Sprouts are a great source of protein, and works best as a snack, to keep those pangs of hunger away when you don’t feel like getting out of your room and walking all the way to the mess.

2. Fruit

You have to agree that fruits are yummy. And no, fruit candies do not count. We’ve grown up being told that they are a good source of fibre and vitamins, and for our purposes, they are also easily available and easy to eat. Whether its bananas or apples – or if you’re like me, a whole melon sliced into cubes – fruits do actually lift your mood, because if nothing, they give you the impression that you’ve eaten healthy. That’s always a good feeling.

3. Peanuts

I hated peanuts growing up. But peanuts in general do make for a great snack – especially those lightly roasted salted ones. They’ll keep you satisfied when you don’t feel like getting out of your room, yet your stomach gurgles otherwise.

4. Muesli

Personally, it’s my goal to eat every kind of muesli that you can get in the world. I love muesli, and it’s one of those things you can get really, really creative with if you’re down to experiment with fruit combinations.

It also makes for a healthy meal, and if you choose the right brand you can also eat it as a snack. Muesli is one of those things which I actually feel like eating, even when my appetite takes a toll because of an episode.

5. Oats

I have a feeling this is going to be an unpopular option and I don’t blame you. No matter how many ads try to sell those instant masala (and other flavoured) oats as yummy, they never are. But this is where your leftover packets of chilli flakes and oregano come into play. These oats are a healthier option than your instant noodles and with a dash of taste enhancers (chilli flakes, oregano, etc. etc.) they make for a fairly edible meal which will take care of dinner for the days you’d rather stay in your room. 

Of course, these are methods I find myself struggling to follow on my worst days. Chances are, I'll descend into a spiral of junk food and chocolates when it gets really, really difficult. But sometimes, mental health is a matter of habit. I got into the habit of going to class everyday so I don't end up wallowing in bed unless it gets really bad. I got into the habit of avoiding sugary drinks like Coke so now it's not something I turn to no matter how badly I need to consume junk and copious amounts of sugar. 

Nevertheless, these methods help me on my better days. Like I said, sometimes it's a matter of habit.