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The Hunger Games. Friday April 11, 2014

Thanks to Les, we're all now well acquainted with the acronym HALT. Each letter standing for a symptom often synonymous with depression. How about we take a look at how we can fight the often, all consuming, H, which stands for hunger.

In one of the Moodscope blogs that Jon wrote, he said he wished someone would come up with a cook book for depressed souls (meaning, recipes extremely simple to create) with healthy fare (foods known to help the mind as well as the body).

My craft is not in the kitchen. I'm no orthorexic [My word of the day: it means obsessed by healthy eating.] but I do so try to cook healthy fare from scratch. Alas, it can feel overwhelming to begin and all too often, I'm in a real tizzy by the end (and that's even when I'm supping the wine instead of cooking with it!). I'm no tidy cook either. Yes, eating healthily when low and tired can feel like an insurmountable task. What to do? What helps you?

For me, it helps to have a ton of healthier snacks in stock: raisins, dried fruit and nuts, bananas, small apples...For those with sleep disorders, you will know the hunger and craving for sugar can feel permanent, as the body is continually trying to "wake up". Having a supply of cakes, biscuits and sweets in my cupboards is dangerous. Best not buy them to begin with.

My favourite meal when weary is wholegrain rice (Uncle Ben's provide jolly easy cooking instructions), fish, perhaps baked and a colourful, crisp salad, with a simple dressing. It's simple, tasty and not unhealthy.

Drinking lots of water helps to curb the hunger slightly.

Do you have simple, healthy recipes to share? Given that we live at a time when eating healthily has never been so important and yet never been so difficult, I think a pooling of tips, healthy snacks and recipes would be truly beneficial. Help! Please?

A Moodscope member.

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PWD Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 7:09am

A tin of cold rice pudding does it for me its quick tasty and filling probably a bit high in sugar but it works for me. I am terrible when hungry.Great blog Suzy looking forward to tips


Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 7:36am

A bowl of porridge, with nuts, seeds or dried fruit on top :)

Lex McKee Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 7:42am

I'm in love with fresh herbs and citrus. I seem to have a gift at slaying Coriander so it's good that it is quite cheap to replenish. My chives, however, live forever. Oregano and Basil join the herb family most of the year and I frequently have a lime or a lemon to hand. Obviously, taste is important and yet I have to say that it is the scent of the herbs that lifts my spirit and excites my expectations.

The physical act of preparing the ingredients also helps as a rite of passage from an overwhelming part of my day to a calmer period.

My favourite combination at the moment is toast with cream cheese on, sprinkled with black pepper. Onto this I put a small amount of smoked salmon when it is on special! Usually more pepper on top of this. Then a poached egg which I pierce and drizzle with some lemon juice. The layers of flavours from the cheese and the lemon juice make it like a cheap Hollandaise sauce - and I'm beginning to prefer it to the 'real' Hollandaise taste.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 7:52am

Lex, you have got my mouth watering. I want this for breakfast!

Mary Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 7:56am

What a great challenge Suzy. I hope you get lots of replies and recipes. I struggle with healthy eating and my weight. I crave carbs for the energy, but of course, they don't give me the energy, just the weight. Coping with grief this year over the death of my uncle, I have put on 20lb. I need quick, easy, tasty and healthy things to have around the house - and you're quite right: if you don't buy chocolate, you can't eat it!

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 7:57am

Grate carrots, mix in mayonnaise, add crushed garlic and a good bit of pepper and salt. Leave in the fridge for when you need it and have with some bread and butter.

I'd go with porridge too (though not at the same time). Warm, healthy and comforting.

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 8:10am

Strawberries or pear dipped in a good 70% dark chocolate never fails to meet my sweet tooth !

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 8:27am

I struggle to eat healthily but try to increase fruit intake.

Lex McKee Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 8:34am

So do I, Mary, and I'm away from my herbs.... will have to get creative!

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 8:36am

Thanks, that's a great post. When I split up with my fiance last year, I lost my appetite completely, which was a huge shock given how much I am interested in food usually. I am a food blogger and am now planning to retrain as a chef, to give you an idea!
Going from a long-term relationship to living completely alone for the first time, even when my appetite came back I struggled to balance long working hours with the need to eat properly - I had always shared out cooking with my partner, so if I worked late he made sure there was dinner, and vice versa.

So my top tip for when you're feeling down and can't face the effort is a bowl of fresh stuffed pasta, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and with a pile of grated cheese and lots of black pepper. The pasta and cheese keep for ages in the fridge, it takes no more time to make than boiling a kettle, and it's a warm, soft, tasty and comforting dish.

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 8:55am

Mash a banana in a cup,add mini bar of 70% dark choc broken up then microwave for 45 seconds.delicious and gooey comfort.

Also boiling eggs doesnt need much thinking and they keep you satisfied for that bit longer.

G Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 9:27am

My favourite is soaking chia seed with soymilk (or any non-diary milk) and fridge it for hours or overnight. Add cocoa powder when I need a chocolate fix. Top the chia pudding with my favourite fruits (blueberries, strawberries, banana slices) and I am happy :)
Thank you Suzy for the post and I have to remind myself not to be orthorexic again (I had this obsession while severely depressed, making myself and people around me more miserable). A favourite healthy snack is what we need to keep our mood in check.

Cathyf Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 9:57am

A great healthy snack that kicks the sugar cravings for me is a bananna cut in half lengthways and spread peanut butter on each half. It sounds strange but trust me it's nutritious & delicious!

For a healthy comforting dinner I love chicken breast stuffed with mozarella & wrapped in parma ham. It's so easy - slice a little pocket in the chicken breast and stuff with the mozarella and then wrap with parma/searanno ham or bacon! To go with it I chop up baby new potaotes and roast them with olive oil - put them on at 180C about 10 mins before the chicken then add the chicken to the same roasting dish and cook for a further 35 mins. For the last ten minutes add some chopped garlic & rosemary if you have some. I usually serve this with mushrooms or a salad. It tastes and sounds a lot more complicated than it is ;-)

Gower Preston Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 10:02am

Now here's a topic close to my heart.

The best advice I had some years ago came when I couldn't eat because of emotional trauma. I was pointed in the direction of miso. A big spoonful of that in a pan with hot water does wonders. Then just thrown in something green...kale, spinach, broccoli, pak choi, sugar snap peas etc..

I liked the idea so much (nutritious, quick and simple) that it (and variations on the theme) has become a regular thing for me. I'm often in the shops in the evenings and always grab whatever fish they might be reducing and stock the freezer with it. Cod, tuna, swordfish, sea bass are my favourites. I also get frozen scallops and squid for variety. When the miso is cooking, I just pop some fish in there at the beginning and throw the greens in later.

As I got back into eating, I started to enjoy playing with spices again and now I make a similar soup without the miso and instead use a little Marigold veg stock and add the spices depending on how I feel. Star anise and coriander seeds are my current favourites. Another very simple variant is to add a small teaspoon of green thai paste. Boost all of this now and then with a handful of noodles and I can keep myself happy and well-fed pretty much all the time. Give it a try, it's a lovely way to eat and keeps you away from the fats. <3

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 10:24am

Hi Mary
I have successfully lost a stone on the 5:2 fasting diet and can really recommend it. I love it because you can eat what you like on 5 days - cakes, chocolates, sweets, whatever; I find it easier to do my fasting from lunch time to lunch time. I struggled to do it all in the same day. 500 calories for women, 600 calories for men when fasting. It does take a bit of time to get used to but once established becomes easy, like any good routine. Also, the weight comes off gradually - approx. 2lb per month. I had put weight on as a result of my medication and my inability to exercise due to my chronic fatigue. I feel so much better having lost the stone (and incredibly smug - can you tell?!) Good luck! Frankie

Tere Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 10:34am

As I am really on a tight budget (two of us living on one social security disability check - mine) I am always tight for money. One trick I learned was mashed banana "ice cream" which is always a treat in the summer. When I buy bananas, I let them get gooey on purpose. Then I cut them up, flash freeze (which means place on a large cookie sheet and freeze pieces separately) then bag them up. When I'm ready for my treat, I put about 2 bananas worth in my food processor (you can get an idea of how many is two bananas worth by counting as you cut before you freeze; with me, it's about 8 pieces per banana, to make this, I need 16 pieces of frozen banana). You can just process at this time until it is creamy (it will take a few minutes so be PATIENT). I add, sometimes, 2 tb of peanut butter, or PB and a dash of cocoa -- you can add anything you want, actually. I love this with a few strawberries thrown in. Nice, creamy, dairy and sugar free -- and easy peasy to do if you can think ahead. In fact, this is my go-to use for left over bananas - forget banana bread. I like this much better. And yes, you CAN add nuts.

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 10:38am

My mother's favourite pick-me-up is a banana sandwich; mashed tastes sweeter than simply sliced somehow. A tin of tuna mixed with mayonnaise and a dollop of horse radish sauce to give it "bite" can live in the fridge for several days and serve as sandwich filling or topping for a jacket potato. Adding a tin of sweet corn and/or sweet pepper adds variety. Frankie. P.S. I keep losing this comment! Maybe these are bad ideas!!!

valerie Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 11:06am

Bake/microwave a large sweet potato until tender,Drizzle with bit of olive oil,top with poached egg and /or slices of avocado,bit of green salad,some pumpkin seeds,black pepper.

Make porridge with soya milk ( I am almost vegan,but this is actually creamier than cows milk in porridge) make 3 layers in your bowl,with coffee granules and bit of sugar/sweetex powder between them.Chill in fridge-either quickly grill for "crème brulee" or eat cold a la crème caramel.
Both these lift blood sugar which plummets for me when I am anxious and stressed.


Mart Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 11:32am

Great post Suzy and some interesting ideas being floated out here today by all you hungry moodscope followers. Oatcakes and humous together with sliced peppers and celery sticks is a hit in our house for healthy snacking. And you can't go wrong with cashew or pistachio nuts as a substitute for crisps. Mmm...

Suzy Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 1:26pm

Oh me too! (Except I hold very strong principles on decanting into a pretty china cup or glass bowl;o) Isn't rice pudding so much nicer cold?

Suzy Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 1:28pm

Brunch at Lexi's tomorrow everybody!! ;o)

Suzy Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 2:09pm

My goodness, I'm yearning to reply to everyone individually but the kitchen is calling and my tummy is growling! What delicious ideas everyone has! (No Frankie, yours are definitely GOOD ideas! My comments often slip through cyber cracks too!)
Some of your ideas are completely new to me...Valerie, your version of creme caramel is to be served here soonly! ALL of your comments are delicioso! But it's not just the ideas and receipes that are inspiring. There have been a few comments that have really touched me. The experiences shared remind me of just what an emotional thing our relationship with food is. The book Eat Love Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert gave some very witty, wise prose on this as I remember.
Ooh I'm thinking that Anon 8.36am could be the one to write the cook book and use all of the ideas/experiences here. Moodscope's Culinery Delights! Bon Apetite everybody. I wish you all a hearty, healthy appetite! (Ha! That's so stupid of me! I've only just realised that wishing someone 'Bon Apetite!' literally means just that: a good appetite. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. :o/
I'll be thinking of you all whilst grazing away healthily this noon... :o). The sun is out too! Whoohooo!

Suzy Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 2:16pm

This sounds positively yummy Tere! I'm glad too that you have mentioned living yummily on a tight budget. This is a challenge in itself I know. As always great input Tere.

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 2:58pm

I found following the 'insulin resistance' program is wonderful. I have been on it for a month. It is easy, amd i lost 6lbs. You match 15g of carbs to 7g of protein, basically. My snacks are protein or an apple.

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 3:29pm

Thanks Suzy - Frankie

Dande Lion Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 3:58pm

I'm almost vegan and also ceoliac on a mega tight budget so my favourites are:
1. avacado on gluten free toast with omega seed mix and black pepper
2. smoothie: banana, almonds, rice milk, tbsp coconut oil (fantastic for mood - same chemicals found in breast milk) and a tbsp on omega mix, yummy,
3. big bowl of steamed green veg (any frozen and fresh brocolli) drizzled with chili sauce made with agave, chilli flakes and olive oil. greens are great for alkalising. oh god, i'm getting oxywhat-ever that obsessed word is again! sorry. medicinal foods excites me. :)
4. root veg soup with warming spices like nutmeg, cardamon, tumeric, paprika thrown in, half a coconut block and fresh herbs on top with gluten free toast
5. beans on toast with coleslaw (which i make with vegan mayo when well - 5 min job)
You may find the Mood Food Handbook helpful by Amanda Geary - published by MIND.
Eating with grattitude mindfully always fills me up more too. :) xxx

Anonymous Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 4:57pm

I just LOVE this idea: "eating with gratitude mindfully ..."; thanks Dande Lion. Frankie

Suzy Fri, Apr 11th 2014 @ 6:06pm

A great comment Dande Lion! Never an unpalatable moment in your home I'm sure!
And yes, love the mindful eating tip. Chinese proverb say: "Eat less, taste more." Have you ever noticed how impossible it is to enjoy food whilst watching TV, for example? Too many senses engaged at once to fully savour the taste, so you're eating but not paying attention enough to know when you've had enough and so just go right on eating!
Will defo give the Mood Food Handbook a peek too. ;o) Thank you!

Lex McKee Sat, Apr 12th 2014 @ 8:54am

With one of my rare serious hats on, I think you've openned up another wonderful ongoing resource for Moodscopers, Suzy. "I'm In the Mood for Food" - our own recipe book - will check out the delightfully titled "Mood Food" Handbook too.

Match this with some other resources on how to handle our moods (and other people) and I think we have some great Moodscope publications that people could download... hmmm, Caroline, how does that sound?

Lex McKee Sat, Apr 12th 2014 @ 9:11am

caroline ashcroft Sat, Apr 12th 2014 @ 9:24am

Sounds great to me Lex. Let's talk.

Lex McKee Sat, Apr 12th 2014 @ 9:29am

Fab.... Moodscope on the Menu!

Anonymous Sat, Apr 12th 2014 @ 12:32pm

I always find when I'm down I need things that take the least amount of thinking and energy, are comforting and somehow engaging - as in they have a depth of flavour that actually makes me focus on and appreciate the flavour and what I'm doing at that moment (being, erm, eating). I also need things that feel rich in a way, as otherwise I'll just go straight for unhealthy things with lots of sugar and additives (which doesn't help in the long or short run).

Some of the following are my favourites:

Avocado on toast (or anything, usually marmite rice cakes) with lime and salt. It's creamy, refreshing and good for you. Some chilli flakes too.

Smoked mackerel with lemon and horseradish. Horseradish is a winner for me - rich and stimulating, yet not unhealthy. And you have to use it mindfully otherwise you get the nose burn!

White rice cooked until it's quite soft and stodgy (?), mixed with natural yoghurt (I use sheep's yog as I don't eat dairy), with some sea salt, lime and then any other herbs/spices you want to add. It might sound odd or boring, but believe me, this is comfort and healing in a bowl. I first had it made for me when I was ill in India.

If it's spring/summer and I have a bit more time/energy, I make a salad of chunky tomatoes, red/yellow peppers, beetroot, raw fennel (whatever salad veg is in the fridge really), roquette or watercress leaves, crumbled feta, capers and dried oregano. The crumbled feta turns the salad rich and creamy, whilst the capers add that extra zing, but the whole thing is fresh, crunchy, delicious and healthy.

I always forget when I get into the habit of eating badly how good it makes you feel to eat well, not only because of the actual effect of putting good fuel into your body so it works better, but also by sending yourself the subliminal message that you're worth treating well.

I had awful ezcema for most of my childhood and a really bad episode for about a year when I was 25. When I was a kid all I was given was steroids until my mum finally took me to be tested for food allergies. I then cut out dairy, MSG and a few other things at the age of 13 and I became a new person. When I had the episode when I was 25 - where my entire body was covered in raw bleeding rashes - I saw a consultant who said I had to go on oral and topical steroids, and that I would struggle with this my whole life. I chucked the prescription in the bin and decided to take control of it myself. I realised that not only did I have to change what food I was putting into my body, but I had to change my life. I was utterly miserable with my life but trying to maintain a facade, and my body was just disintegrating. I'm still working on this life bit now, but I have changed a lot of my life and I now have beautiful smooth skin (a first!), and no prescriptions. I am also in great physical health, despite having been 'the sickly child' for my entire life.

Anyway, this is going on a bit, but I think it is so important what we put into our old bods! It's all connected, right?

Anonymous Sun, Apr 13th 2014 @ 4:40pm

I think a stir fry is a marvellous meal when you feel too tired and down to stand at the stove for long. All the ingredients can be bought ready prepared if you are too tired to prepare them yourself and it can be either vegetarian or meat or something like prawns added. I tend to like it plain but again a ready made sauce can be added to give more flavour. It has the added bonus of being cooked in the wok so there isn't tons of washing up to do. All of the recipes have wetted my appetite!

Anonymous Sun, Apr 13th 2014 @ 8:58pm

lentil and vegetable soup. Made in a big batch then frozen into portions, so I can easily defrost one when I can't be bothered to cook - protein, veg, tasty, healthy :) Can add e.g. chilli, cumin for variation...

Anonymous Mon, Apr 14th 2014 @ 2:21pm

I know when I'm feeling stressed or angry I need to crunch - and that can be a factor in depression - so instead of cheesy wotsits and crisps [which I love], I am keeping carrot and celery sticks in the fridge with or without a homemade dip so I can make healthier choices in my hour of need!

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