easy, satisfying meal ideas for when you don't know what to eat
Healthy Habits

Meal Ideas: What can I make myself to eat?

February 20, 2023

Ryann Nicole

Hi, I’m Ryann.

Your Not-So-Average Food Freedom Therapist & Virtual Coach. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Nutritionist with a BA in Psychology, and a MA in Professional Counseling, yes I do a little of the "so how does that make you feel".

But my ultimate goal is to provide you with the resources you need, in an easy-to-understand way, on healing your disordered relationship with food and your body. 

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You open the fridge and stare at all the choices. Your mind starts to race. “What can I make myself to eat? What’s the best choice? What am I hungry for?” Before you know it, you’re so overwhelmed you shut the door and walk out of the kitchen with no meal ideas. Sound familiar? When you haven’t allowed yourself to explore different foods, believing for years that certain foods were bad or off-limits, this is a common experience.

Introducing the ‘What can I make myself to eat?’ guide:

First of all, breathe. Take a step back and zoom out. Meal ideas do not need to cause so much stress. Don’t worry about identifying a particular food yet! Instead, ask yourself some simple questions to help you narrow down your options, allowing you to ultimately choose the food that is right for your body at that moment.

First Question: Temperature?

Does something hot, cold, neither, or a combo sound good? This is a great first question to help narrow down meal ideas.

  • If it's hot outside, a steamy bowl of soup might not sound great
  • Likewise, if it's snowing, a cold salad might not be something that would warm you up

Thinking about temperature is extremely important to identify something that will be satisfying to you.

Second Question: Flavor?

Am I in the mood for something savory, sweet, salty, sour, or bitter? Identifying a flavor profile is a great next step to narrowing down meal ideas.

  • If you're in the mood for something savory, a protein bar probably isn't going to cut it 
  • On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, then cheese and crackers probably aren't going to do it for you

Thinking about flavors outside of specific foods will navigate you closer to what you want.

How about texture?

What texture appeals to me? It seems irrelevant, but it does matter. Texture plays a major role in our sensory experience and directly influences satisfaction levels.  

  • In the mood for something crunchy? Maybe yogurt wouldn’t be the best choice
  • Feeling like something more smooth? Maybe a banana might sound more appealing

Fourth question: Volume?

Would I enjoy something small or something more substantial and filling? This matters when deciding on meal ideas! 

  • If you’re hungry and need a substantial and filling meal, egg whites and fruit isn't going to fill you up
  • But if you’re not that hungry and just need something to hold you over, a heavy chicken curry dish probably won’t leave you feeling all that great 

The first 3 questions got you thinking about what you want. This question brings in the element of what you need.

Last question: Feeling?

How do I want to feel when I am finished eating this? When asking yourself this question, try to think ahead. For example, if you have a full day of back-to-back meetings, while a poptart might sound great initially, you know that it probably doesn't leave you feeling full and nourished. This is a great question to help pull you out of your head and put you back in touch with your body.

Now ask: taking all of this into account, ‘what can I make myself to eat?’

It is time to brainstorm! You know what kind of food you want, so put together a meal or snack that meets those requirements.

Let’s practice with a few examples.

This time you walk into the kitchen, open the fridge, and instead of panicking, you think…

Example 1

  • Temperature? > Hot! 
  • Flavor? > Sweet 
  • Texture? > Creamy 
  • Volume? > Substantial and Filling (hungry and looking for a meal) 
  • Finished Feeling? > Full and Satisfied 

Taking all of this into account, what can I make myself to eat? > What about chicken curry with rice? Yes!

Example 2:

  • Temperature? > Neutral
  • Flavor? > A little bit of everything  
  • Texture? > Crunch
  • Volume? > Small (moderately hungry and looking for a snack)  
  • Finished Feeling? > Energized and Satisfied 

Taking all of this into account, what can I make myself to eat? > What about popcorn mixed with trail mix? Yes!

Example 3:

  • Temperature? > Cold
  • Flavor? > A little bit of everything  
  • Texture? > Crunch
  • Volume? > Medium – Large (moderately hungry and looking for a meal)
  • Finished Feeling? > Nourished & Energized 

What about a salad with chicken, cucumber, quinoa, strawberries, almonds, feta and balsamic dressing? Yes! 

To Summarize:

Learning to choose foods based on what you want after years of listening to diet culture can feel daunting. But, by asking yourself the right questions, you can start tuning in to your body’s needs and choosing food that feels good to you. So next time you don’t know what to eat, give this ultimate guide a try, and you’ll be on your way to peace in the kitchen.

Struggling with hunger and fullness? Check these out:

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