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Illustration by Brittany England

Healthline Eats is a series looking at our favorite recipes for when we’re just too exhausted to nourish our bodies. Want more? Check out the full list here.

Food — dangerously, I must admit — doesn’t mean much to me. In a fight between hunger and appetite, neither win out because I never really feel hungry, and my appetite is too bourgeois to be truly sated at home.

And that’s me on good days.

On bad days, when my depression hits, both hunger and appetite go out the window.

Hunger comes, more like a sad unannounced doorbell ring, where ignoring the ring provides the same effect as answering it. I’ve gone to bed when the sun is still up, to avoid hunger — and avoid the cooking, cleaning, and waiting for a meal I don’t even want to be ready.

I’m trying to work through this non-relationship with food though, and part of it has been accepting that food doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s food context I crave: fancy plating, traveling, date nights, and so on. But in the case of depression, the context is general avoidance of everything that reminds me of existing.

So here’s my go-to meal for not wanting to think at all, especially not about food (so boring).

Keeping yourself regular When a depressive episode would last for days, it used to lead to constipation because I didn’t eat enough fiber. While yes, this is easy to make, honest to God this recipe has me coming back because it keeps me pooping — the highlight of living.

Dumplings and Napa Cabbage

Ingredients

  • frozen dumplings, as many as you want
  • 1 small Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • black vinegar, or any type of vinegar
  • miso paste (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring hot water to boil. (Pre-boil hot water in a kettle if your unreliable pot takes too long to bring tepid temperature to a fiery rise).
  2. Throw in your frozen dumplings.
  3. Wait for water to re-boil and for dumplings to float. That’s good enough to eat. (The timing on the packages are suggestions, honestly throw enough sauce on them and they’ll be edible.)
  4. Take out the dumplings and place them in a medium-sized bowl.
  5. Dump chopped Napa cabbage into the pot with leftover boiling water. Let the cabbage shrink. (Sometimes I put the cabbage in a bowl and pour the steaming water over that while I watch a YouTube video. If you decide to do this, simply strain after your video is over.)
  6. While the cabbage is cooking, drizzle soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar over the dumplings. Add ginger if you want. If you feel like you need more flavor, cooked chopped garlic and ginger in sesame oil until it browns and then add soy sauce and vinegar to warm mixture.
  7. After the cabbage is done, or your patience is up, drain and put the cabbage over the dumplings. Mix in sauce and some miso paste if not salty enough.

Now eat. Most of the dishes can be rinsed quickly with hot water or left until tomorrow, where there won’t be a crusty reminder of what you ate last night. You can also repeat tomorrow with same ingredients, if you feel like it.


Christal Yuen is an editor at Healthline who writes and edits content revolving around sex, beauty, health, and wellness. She’s constantly looking for ways to help readers forge their own health journey. You can find her on Twitter.