(a.k.a. S.A.D. Breakfast)

By Kat Kinsman
Updated December 11, 2018
Credit: Photo by Haha Bestimmt / EyeEm via Getty Images

It is so difficult to be a person some days, but there really isn't much of an alternative unless maybe you are a furry in which case, please go on enjoying that. Maybe even furries have bad days—it's hard to tell because of the headpiece—but the point of all of this is that we're in the skids of the dark, frozen part of the year and staying in bed with your face mashed into the pillow often seems like the most sensible option. You can maybe pull that off for a day or even two if it's a weekend, but eventually you have to feed your mortal body.

Ugh, I know. It's so hard sometimes, especially on the days when it's light out for about 13 minutes and then thickens into a lead-cold sky that weighs down your eyelids and makes you feel like you're shuffling around with an X-ray apron on your soul. But you have to do it, and cold cereal won't help matters, oatmeal seems like cannibalism, and eggs—you think I'm Ina Garten over here? Food is so hard when you're sad (or have S.A.D.), but you have to ingest some to keep on "living" until the days when it's not dark at 2:30 p.m., and not develop scurvy along the way. That doesn't mean no Doritos, it just means not only Doritos, and probably some plant matter while you're at it.

Yes, even in the morning. Winter malaise has a lot to do with a drop in serotonin and Vitamin D levels, and you can try to rectify some of that with food. This is not a substitute for seeing an actual therapist or medical professional if you need to, but it will get useful nutrients into your body. (Lifehacker's A.A. Newton wrote an incredible primer on how to feed yourself when you're depressed.) Carbs may temporarily lift your mood, but depending on their makeup they may lead to a sugar crash that makes you feel worse than you did before you smushed a Paris-Brest or loaf's worth of cinnamon toast into your face, so be careful with that, especially at the start of the day. Same with juices that can spike up your blood sugar and then smash it straight into the carpet.

So here's what we're working with: Food that doesn't need heat or refrigeration to remain safe, a minimum of utensils and mess (unless you're cool with crumby sheets), and not much organic matter to clean up after, lest you risk finding a dessicated banana peel fused to your headboard at some point in the spring. Basically you're packing yourself a grade schooler's lunch box and setting it on the bedside table to greet you in the morning. Have fun with it!

Spread nut butter on whole-grain bread (crackers are great, but the crumbles, man), top that with sunflower, sesame, or flax seeds, and put it in a sandwich bag or plastic container by your bed. If that's too much effort, a wrapped bar that's low on sugar and high in protein, Omega-3, and fiber might do the trick—so long as you don't let the wrappers pile up in a heap next to your bed, which can be a thing that happens if you're depressed. Maybe unwrap it while you're still in your kitchen and put it in a plastic container and try to remember to take that container with you when you leave the room. When your brain feels like it's operating beneath a block of Jell-O (one of the bad flavors), it's crucial to set little tricks to thwart your worst impulses. You can eat cold, roasted, seasoned sweet potato chunks with your fingers, and it's a really great sad-person snack that doesn't require a fork.

Plenty of oily fish are rich in depression-fighting Omega-3 and Vitamin D, but then you have fish smell in your bedroom. That's someone's fetish, but probably not yours. Skip the bed fish. Flax pudding also has 'em, but that requires a jar and a spoon and also that seems sort of gross to eat in bed. Stick to walnuts.

A cheery little fruit salad might help, especially when it's packed with nutrients that help stave off depression. The night before (which may start at 4 p.m.—seriously, is the sun ever coming back?), remove the stems from a few leaves of kale, then roll them between your palms for a few minutes to make them less stiff. Put those in a plastic bag along with some walnuts (Omega-3s again) and seeds. Fill a plastic container with cut up fruit, whatever is in season, but definitely including citrus, and pour some Vitamin-D-enriched orange juice on top of that. Close that up and put it in a cooler with a cold pack, along with the kale bag. In the morning, slurp the juice out of the container, sprinkle the nuts and seeds on the fruit, and use the kale leaves to eat the fruit like a taco. Throw some hot sauce in there if you'd care to jolt your senses a little in a good way. Maybe keep the hot sauce bottle by your bed and also some Wet-Naps. Put the cooler somewhere that you will trip over it on the way to the bathroom so you remember to take it back to the kitchen eventually. Wash the containers when you can.

Is this how people who are doing just fine manage to feed themselves in the dark months? No! They're wrapping their mittened paws around steaming mugs of cocoa and making cozy-ass oatmeal with cream and nuts and dried fruit, and having the gang over for snowman building and Instagramming various baked goods. They're thriving and that's great for them; it's not a contest. You're surviving, and that's plenty good enough.