Plan Week 2019: Meal Prep Helped Me Recover From Mental Illness
Can you believe Plan Week is almost over? I’ve got one more guest post coming to you today from Sophie at Infra Red Rum. Sophie is a 26-year-old research scientist (studying diet and health) with a passion for mental health awareness and social justice. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter to find out more.
Today she is sharing her experience with meal prepping when you have a mental illness. Meal prep can feel like a daunting task but in the long run it helps you throughout the week, especially on the bad mental health days. If you have a goal to meal prep more in 2020 check out her story.
Just like we can eat to promote our physical health, we can also use the way we prepare our food to manage our mental health too. This is something I learned during my own hard-fought battle through therapy.
It only takes a scroll through Instagram to see that the art of meal prepping can evolve into a whole lifestyle of its own. Influencers and content creators around the world pack all types of cuisine into plastic film and Tupperware, gaining thousands of follows from cash-strapped students to time-poor mums. But my experience of meal prepping wasn’t a colourful, joyous celebration of saved time and money; I was trying to save my mental health.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar (II) disorder in 2016 and quickly entered a therapy programme. I expected to be taught lots of things in therapy, but it didn’t really occur to me that I might learn to meal prep. I learned that meal prepping doesn’t just save you money and time, it’s also like preparing a care package for your future self – you can pack away your favourite tasty treat at a time you’re feeling well, and offer yourself a hot bowl of much-needed comfort later.
When I was at my worst, I found it very hard to eat healthily. I didn’t have the energy to cook and my low moods made me crave all sorts of unhealthy, sugary foods (which really didn’t help my mental state). It was a hard-fought battle and giving up junk food is never easy, but meal prepping really helped me invest in self-care and ultimately improved my mental health. On days where I felt just a little more capable, I started making soups and stews which would easily freeze and reheat in a microwave; this small step meant that I could gradually improve my diet, allowing improvements in my mental health to follow.
Now, I’m pretty good at healthy eating. I’m officially in remission from my Bipolar (though it will never go away completely) and regularly cook a variety of healthy evening meals. I couldn’t have achieved this without the wonderful friends and family who joined me in the kitchen, and they’re owed a massive ‘thanks!’. But I also couldn’t have achieved this healthy lifestyle without the foresight and self-care I offered myself through meal prepping.
This post is a part of Plan Week 2019. Catch up on posts you may have missed here: