Nothing sounds good...
September 16, 2014 6:49 AM   Subscribe

I suck at feeding myself. Nothing sounds appealing to me. I don't have an appetite but I still feel physical hunger, and this is leading to some silly food habits that I'd like to change.

It feels like there is a disconnect between how emotionally hungry I am and how physically hungry I am, and I don't realize exactly how physically hungry I am until I start eating, and then my drive for food gets stronger and I end up eating these ridiculous things (tomato sauce out of a jar, only celery and peanut butter for half of my meal, only raisins or olives for the other half of my meal; four servings of nuts or tofu in one sitting, or 1/3 of a watermelon in one hour) because they're around, just to get enough food in me. When I have bothered to cook, I can't leave some as leftovers. I'll just end up eating the entire thing, even if it's more than I would otherwise prefer to eat.

In the recent past, I have made more of an effort to cook and did genuinely enjoy food. But for the past few months, I just don't feel emotionally hungry. Nothing appeals to me. I don't crave anything in particular.

An average day would be: 1-2 hard boiled eggs, some broccoli or greens, two handfuls of nuts, a carrot, an apple, a banana, some yogurt, and a can of tuna. I *think* this is enough for somebody of my height and activity level, but tell me if it isn't: I am in my 20s, 5'4" and 120 +/- 3 lbs (have always been around this, though maybe I used to weigh a bit less), walk around 1-2 hours a day, exercise 3-6x a week (although lately it has been closer to 3 than to 6). I don't count calories but can estimate sometimes.

Other things I eat are watermelon, berries, oatmeal (sometimes), nut butters (sometimes), raisins, all vegetables, fish (salmon, sardines, shrimp... everything), and avocados. I don't have dietary restrictions and eat everything, although I have a taste for food that also happens to be healthier or lighter. I don't drink alcohol or caffeine.

I know all of this sounds reasonably healthy, but I have somehow managed to make this into a not-healthy thing. Or, at least, I am not terribly pleased with my eating habits. I'd like to reset my eating habits so that I can just eat normal meals and enjoy food again. I don't know where to begin. I live by myself, and cooking for one is not very fun. I also feel bloated and somewhat unattractive if I eat too much. "Binging" (eating more than I would cognitively prefer to in the moment) on foods like watermelon does serve the purpose of getting me to the number of calories I need per day and keeps me from passing out due, but binging isn't really a good feeling, even if I could surely do worse than binging on a food like watermelon.

Other information: I don't like microwave meals. I don't like beans or rice. I can't afford to eat out more than 1x a week. Don't say "therapy."
posted by fernweh to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: So I know you're into light, healthy foods, but hear me out...

Get yourself a nice, crusty baguette.
Get yourself a wedge of brie.
Get yourself some really good butter, like Kerrygold.
(If you're near a Trader Joe's, this is a one stop shopping trip and all fairly reasonably priced.)

Make yourself a brie and butter sandwich and eat it while luxuriating in hedonistic decadence.

I swear to you, nothing reawakens your emotional desire for food quite like creamy fats and carbs, and if you do it in this fancy sammich way, you make it a special thing (as opposed to grabbing fast food or junk food) to savor and enjoy and feel good about.

I've mentioned it all over metafilter, but I was unemployed and broke for a really long period of time, and ate very sparsely for many, many, many months. Lots of vegetables, potatoes, rice, things that were inexpensive but also healthy because I didn't want to get all malnutriented. I didn't splurge on anything. The part of me that enjoyed food was dead inside, because I had effectively killed it just so I could get by. Food was a chore. I made myself this sandwich with the first paycheck I got after I finally got a job again, and it was the first time in a really, really long time that I actually enjoyed food. Finding ways like this to make eating special will go a long way towards helping your mental relationship with food. At least, it did for me.
posted by phunniemee at 7:00 AM on September 16, 2014 [30 favorites]

What you've described as your usual consumption sounds like not very much food to me, even though it's pretty nutrient dense food. One thing you might consider is making a reasonable estimate of your calories and checking them against your estimated BMR (the amount of calories you burn by existing) and TDEE (BMR + activity expenditure). There's a calculator here. You should be eating at least your BMR every day, and more on days you exercise. If you're eating enough regularly, the impulse to binge should be limited, which hopefully will make cooking for yourself more practical and appealing. It might help to track your calories for awhile to be sure you're getting as many as you need.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:10 AM on September 16, 2014

An average day would be: 1-2 hard boiled eggs, some broccoli or greens, two handfuls of nuts, a carrot, an apple, a banana, some yogurt, and a can of tuna.

If that's what I were eating, I'd get bored of eating too. Try some flavor:

Here's something easy, cheap, and relatively high calorie that you'll probably like: Make pasta, squirt on some lemon juice, salt and pepper, add tablespoon of olive oil and a can of tuna in oil (or in water if you really prefer).

You also might enjoy couscous, really easy to make, just basically boil water, drop the couscous in, and mix in some scallions, nuts and dried fruits.
posted by empath at 7:13 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Set mealtimes might help. I eat breakfast as the same time every morning, weekends included. It helps that I use a fuzzy logic rice cooker to cook my steel cut oats, so breakfast is ready to eat when I get to it. I set it the night before. For lunches, my coworkers are pretty routine-bound, so we go to lunch at the same time. And then choose a time that is always dinner time, like half an hour or an hour after you get home from work or always at 6:30 pm or whatever else works for you. Your body will adjust to being hungry when it's anticipating being fed at the same time, every time.

Also, do you have any comfort foods you remember loving? Could you commit to making something like that for yourself once a week to see if that reawakens an enjoyment in food?

Have you even enjoyed reading food writing? A healthy dose of MFK Fisher or America's Best Food Writing of 20XX might stimulate a different appetite.

As for portion, i.e. not eating the whole meal in one sitting, Judith Jones in The Pleasures of Cooking for One recommends actually putting away your 'leftovers' before you eat your meal. So dish out tonight's dinner and before you sit down to it, package up the rest of it and put it away. It'll be in the fridge or freezer and getting cold so that should reduce the temptation to eat it all.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:13 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cut yourself some slack! Ain't nothing wrong with having celery and peanut butter for a meal. Or raisins and olives (assuming you're not watching your sodium), or watermelon, or probably not even tofu or nuts.

I also live on my own, and in general I have just decided that I mostly don't cook full meals from scratch during the work week. It's so much time and effort, when to be honest I'm just as happy making a sandwich, steaming some frozen gyoza, or grazing on the sort of thing you're beating yourself up about.

What you're eating sounds 100% healthy, and frankly like maybe not enough food. I'll second phunniemee that it sounds like you might not be getting enough fat, which might be why you're blowing through four servings of tofu or a third of a watermelon at a go. Also, have a carb every now and again, it's not going to kill you.

If you feel really compelled to both Prepare A Full Meal and also Eat Healthy 100% Of The Time, what about getting into the habit of making big meal-sized salads?

I'm also a big fan of dressing my my grazing by Making A Cheese Plate, or Making A Snack Platter, or the like. A little of this, a little of that, thoughtfully arranged on a plate, rather than just eating straight out of the bag standing at the counter like a barbarian.
posted by Sara C. at 7:14 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

A few things:

First, I used CalorieKing to estimate that "average day" calorie count. I got about 1250 by going with both eggs, and a large specimen of the fruits and vegetables. That's probably closer to your basal energy expenditure than expenditure with exercise, but I wouldn't worry too much about that unless you know 1) you padded that food estimate or 2) you count calories and realize you're eating way too little food for your activity level. (I think if you are padding your estimates, that plus your concern about being "unattractive" and "binging" is worthy of considering therapy, btw, even if it's not a suggestion you're interested in)

Second, I really like phunniemee's suggestion to eat something great and hedonistic, but my suggestion was going to go in the opposite way. If you really hate eating, like really resent it and think it's a waste of time and don't enjoy it, maybe you could get some Soylent? It's not my kind of thing, but people who don't like eating seem really happy with it. It's spendy at ~$4/serving (with price breaks for larger volume/frequency), but you probably would eat like 2.5 servings a day, and getting rid of the stress of planning food might do a lot for your mental health.
posted by hollyholly at 7:14 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm going to caution you that you may get some "therapy" answers because you DO say that you did at one time feel more interested in cooking, but that recently you don't. But - if not therapy, consider asking yourself whether you're getting enough sleep? If I'm sleep-deprived, I don't care about anything. If your sleep schedule has recently changed, that could be something to do with it.

What you are eating isn't that bad. It's little less than what you should be eating, but it's not, like, starve-yourself. And it's also at least all healthy ingredients (I've had nights when my "dinner" was "an entire bag of Cheetos").

So, I have two different approaches to suggest, each one targeting a different aspect of what you've complained about. Choose the one you think fits best.

THEORY A: "I Need to Eat But Don't Want To Think Too Much About It"

You're already kind of doing this; it sounds like you've stocked your house with healthy food in general, and the menu-planning is where you fall down. This would just be a baby step in more of a planned-ahead direction - and is kind of what I do for brown-bag lunches. If you spend a morning or afternoon on the weekends cooking stuff ahead, and then putting it all in your fridge, then all you have to do for dinner is open something from the fridge and dump it on a plate, and either heat it up or eat it like that. I have flogged the Moosewood Daily Special cookbook repeatedly for this purpose - it's nothing but soups and salads, and some of the salads are "main-dish" style so you could eat just that and be fine. And the restaurant itself has "some soup and some salad" as its daily Lunch Special, so you can do the same for dinner - make a couple soups and a couple salads and keep them in the fridge, and then when it's dinner time, just open the fridge, and pick one of each and there you go.

If you feel like you want something more meaty, my own go-to "I need meat" thing is - broiled chicken legs. You can get chicken legs for really cheap, and one chicken leg is just enough for one person; I slather some butter on it, maybe stuff some herbs under the skin, and then just stick it under the broiler for 20 minutes on one side and five on the other. Slap that on a plate, add a spoon of one of the salads or a cup of one of the soups, and there you go.

THEORY B: "I Don't Like Cooking Just For Myself"

The other cookbook I flog is Judith Jones' The Pleasures Of Cooking For One. All her recipes serve only one, and are modestly portioned (which takes care of the "I feel bloated if I eat too much" thing). She also has a really keen eye for the unique problems a single cooker has - a) how to deal with leftovers so you're not eating the same thing for a solid week, and b) what the hell do you do with all the leftover ingredients because you had to buy a whole bag of carrots rather than just the one you needed. To wit:

a) The first section of the book has a lot of recipes in groups, where she walks you through making something the first night, and then turning the leftovers into something totally different the second night. Like, she'll have you cook beef stew with a bunch of vegetables the first night, and then the second night she'll have you chop up the leftover beef and puree the vegetables and, like, add a tomato or something, and now it's a funky pasta sauce. Or, she'll have you buy a pork tenderloin, but then cut half of it off and do [schmeh] with it and stick it in the fridge for tomorrow, and then cut another chunk off and do [blerg] with it and stick it in the fridge for the day after tomorrow, and then you just roast what's left which will be enough for just one person. And then [schmeh] is something totally different the next night, and then [blerg] is still something totally different the night after that.

b) One of the middle sections has a lot of recipes that are good for "random catch-alls" - like, her quiche recipe involves the quiche crust, a couple eggs, a little milk, and "a cup's worth of whatever random unused vegetables you found rolling around in the fridge" and "a quarter cup of whatever cheese you have in the fridge grated". So it's perfect for if you have only, like, a half-cup of leftover cooked peas and a couple mushrooms - something that isn't quite enough to have as a side dish for something else, but you don't want it to go bad - you can throw them in a quiche, and you will have both fed yourself and not wasted the peas.

Good luck!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:15 AM on September 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

Oh! And I almost forgot. If you're eating a can of tuna every day and that habit is working for you, maybe swap that for canned sardines -- way less mercury.
posted by hollyholly at 7:15 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your diet sounds mostly fine and reasonably varied but you may be low on calories. It's hard to tell.

I think it's fine that you don't have emotional cravings. As long as you're eating enough to satisfy physical cravings, then why worry about emotional cravings?

How about yogurt smoothies in the morning?

Granola: Homemade or store-bought. Put on top of yogurt with fruit. The granola will provide extra calories.

When you cook for yourself, portion out meals and put in Tupperware to eat during the week. Example: Salmon, veggies, sweet potatoes.

Do you like mayo? Make some egg salad, salmon salad, or tuna salad and eat on whole grain bread for more calories.

Slather mashed avocado on toast with an egg.
posted by Fairchild at 7:16 AM on September 16, 2014

I'll second phunniemee that it sounds like you might not be getting enough fat

Yeah, olive oil or butter on vegetables makes them feel more filling, just, you know, don't drown them in it.
posted by empath at 7:16 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 2 hard boiled eggs, some broccoli or greens, two handfuls of nuts, a carrot, an apple, a banana, some yogurt, and a can of tuna.

Looking at that, it seems to me you are missing at least one entire meal there for someone with your exercise output. No wonder you're eating everything available when there is food in front of you.

If you can, I would plan meals from the food you like, with a reasonable caloric balance for the day.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:16 AM on September 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

First off, echoing Sara C., cut yourself some slack! Your diet is much better than it could be, and your "shortcomings" don't seem to be putting you at risk for serious health issues, etc.

An average day would be: 1-2 hard boiled eggs, some broccoli or greens, two handfuls of nuts, a carrot, an apple, a banana, some yogurt, and a can of tuna. I *think* this is enough for somebody of my height and activity level, but tell me if it isn't

1 hard-boiled egg - 77 cal
1 cup broccoli - 31 cal
2 oz. almonds - 334 cal
1 carrot - 30 cal
1 apple - 116 cal
1 banana - 121 cal
8 oz. yogurt - 143 cal
1 can of tuna - 191 cal

That's just 1043 calories/day, which seems a little low for someone walking 1-2 hours per day and exercising 3-6 times per week. (Even knowing that those calculators can be really off, I still think this sounds a little low in calories and in protein.)

Anyway, on to your real question. I haven't had this exact problem, but I do sympathize with what you're saying. I get around the bloated/gross feeling of eating too much by eating lots of small meals throughout the day. (So often my "lunch" will be a bit of cheese, some almonds, some grapes, and some carrots with hummus, eaten between 10am and 2pm.) I can eat a lot more calories when they're spread over a long period of time than I can in a single sitting.

In the recent past, I have made more of an effort to cook and did genuinely enjoy food. But for the past few months, I just don't feel emotionally hungry. Nothing appeals to me. I don't crave anything in particular.

Can you pinpoint anything new that's happened in the past few months that could be causing this feeling? (Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest therapy!) I ask because sometimes getting a handle on what is bugging or affecting me can be enough to give me the kick in the pants I need to reset in the way you describe.

You might also try experimenting with the foods that you did crave, before you started feeling this way about food. For example, if you used to looove peanut butter, you might try treating yourself to a scoop for dessert for a few days, to see if it reawakens your desire for food.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:16 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Go buy some really good Indian food.

I think you seriously need to spice or herb your diet up.
posted by zizzle at 7:39 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're not craving anything, maybe just don't fight it and feed yourself just nutrients? I mean, DIY soylent isn't the worst thing in the world. Better than not getting enough to eat.

I kind of like the distinction between "recreational eating" and just nutritional eating. I mean, I usually eat recreationally, because I enjoy it (and enjoy cooking), but it's better to just get a reasonably-palatable slurry than a tray of bagel bites.

That said, your existing habits aren't as bad as all that. So maybe it's overkill, and even further into the "not-normal" category. But (a) you might be the kind of person to enjoy the body-hacking aspects of it, and (b) it's such boring nutrition, it might spark cravings for normal things.
posted by supercres at 7:47 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: If you haven't had a physical with bloodwork in the past 6 months, make that call. Loss of appetite is a symptom of a number of easily-fixable problems, and a couple of them are things that get a lot worse the longer they go untreated.

You have sort of the opposite problem of a lot of people with weight control issues, which is eating as if cravings are a legitimate dietary need that must be satisfied. You shouldn't be "emotionally hungry" all that much, though you seem to have lost the ability to recognize physical hunger until your blood sugar has plummeted, which is another reason you need to see a doctor.

But along with that, plan your meals ahead of time, schedule them, eat when it's time. That is completely normal behavior for lots of people, and maybe if you schedule meals at specific times instead of grazing all day it will make it easier for you to return to a cycle in which you do a) recognize the beginnings of hunger, b) have more enthusiasm for eating, c) see some patterns that might be useful to report to your doctor when you get that bloodwork done.

You probably are going to have to suffer through a little bulk prep/cooking in order to do this on a schedule without spending half your life making meals. But you can cook up batches of protein - which you seem a little low on, and I would say if you bump up your calories you need to do it with protein and real fat, not fruit - twice a week and then it's very fast to pop a cut-up chicken breast and some broccoli in Gladware for later.

Try eating distinct meals for a week. Keep them small to start, don't force yourself, have 3 meals plus second breakfast and afternoon snack if you have to, but try eating 300-ish calories at a time and then not eating for 3-4 hours and see what happens.

I see what you're saying about this feeling disordered to you. It kind of seems like you've lost the self-care aspect of feeding yourself, and one of the reasons I recommend distinct meal-like meals is the psychological component: here is a meal I have made in order to take care of myself versus here's some carrots so I continue to function.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:55 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you walk one to two hours a day, and work out every other day, and you are eating two eggs, six ounces of tuna, a yogurt and some vegetables and whatnot... you are actually pretty much on an extreme calorie deprivation diet. I'm glad you're eating and glad you recognize hunger! I actually have a hard time with that myself.

I'd like to reset my eating habits so that I can just eat normal meals and enjoy food again. I don't know where to begin.

I think to your "where to begin" part of the question, what about some vision work about what you think IS a good meal? And then later, once you feel you know that, you can work towards finding no-fuss, no-muss ways to create that for yourself, without indulging in things that feel like cooking?

For instance, what about making up little meal kits for yourself? The idea of "hacking" mentioned above is maybe a nice one for you. I don't like cooking for myself either, and I rarely will. But I do like prepping and packaging, so I don't mind making myself fun snack packs in advance, for instance.

It would be also really nice if you had a small cheap grill, though I realize this might not be possible. (Though it can be hacked sometimes too! My upstairs neighbor had a tiny grill on his fire escape, which only rarely dumped sizzling bits on me down below.) I also like shrimp and fish, and I don't view "putting some oil and pepper on something and throwing it on a grill" as cooking. I think of it as fun, mostly, with a food-based outcome. :)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:57 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

There are some great comments so far, and I agree with everyone that you probably need more calories. I think specifically your typical day is quite low on protein. This would give you more energy and protein is very important for good moods. Keep on eating the healthy fats too such as avocado, nuts, olives, etc. They will help keep blood sugar balanced and hunger from going overboard. There's probably no need to count calories, and it sounds like you are eating very healthy foods overall, you just need to eat more probably. Getting the right amount and balance of food might bring back your enthusiasm for eating and less binging.
posted by photoexplorer at 8:19 AM on September 16, 2014

Your meals sound so boring. There's no life to them. I think the first commenter is on to something - now that I'm on a grad student budget, I can't afford to spend money on any of the small luxuries I used to (like some dressing for my carrots or couscous instead of rice). I often skip meals just because I don't really care. Heck, I'll do that even if I prepare something and all I need to do is heat it up because it does nothing for me.

So I'd try experimenting. Buy some exotic fruit you've never heard of. Have some high quality artisan bread. Make some sauces for your veggies. Broil your fish if you always saute it. Use a new seasoning. See if you can awaken your senses again.
posted by Aranquis at 8:22 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What I have done when I'm in this situation is eat the same things for breakfast and lunch every day (yogurt, berries, almonds, and oats for breakfast; a bean and cheese burrito for lunch) and make a big batch of something to eat all week for dinner. You could portion out the dinner food into individual servings to avoid eating it all, freezing it if need be. I think having set meals that you don't have to think about will make it easier to eat at standard intervals without getting overly hungry and getting in a bad place because of that.
posted by metasarah at 8:26 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

What changed two months ago when you stopped enjoying food? What's the deal with feeling 'bloated and unattractive' when you eat 'too much' food? What does 'too much' food look like for you? Why do you frame enjoying food as 'emotionally craving' food? Why do you call eating a bunch of watermelon 'bingeing' (anecdata: I could also easily eat half a watermelon in one sitting, but I never think of that as 'bingeing', I think of it as eating a pile of delicious watermelon).

These aren't simple questions to answer, but it seems, from the perspective of this stranger on the Internet, that you've divorced food and pleasure somehow, or that you don't allow yourself to enjoy food as a pleasure. I'm not suggesting you go into therapy, but menu hacks and recipe suggestions are only going to take you so far if your issue is, as you've said, that you don't find most foods appealing or enjoyable.
posted by nerdfish at 8:39 AM on September 16, 2014


Shopping List:
pack of cherry tomatoes
two cucumbers
bag of baby carrots
large package of hearts of romaine
one lemon
one package of full-fat greek yogurt
2-4 chicken breasts; buy them precooked or just shake on a seasoning mix and saute them up
bag of pita bread
package of hummus
one package of feta
jar of kalamata olives or an assortment from your market's olive bar

Peel both cucumbers and scrape out the seeds. One gets sliced into nice salad-or-sandwich sized chunks; one gets grated with a box grater. Mix the shredded cucumber with the juice and zest of the lemon and the greek yogurt for a sort of tzatziki sauce. That's it. That is all the cooking you need to do.


Salad - dress a bed of romaine with the tzatziki sauce, top with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, chicken, feta and olives. Optional toasted pita on the side.

Sandwich - Spread a warmed pita with hummus on one side and tzatziki on the other then stuff with tomatoes, cucumber, chicken, feta and olives

Snack - Dip carrots, cucumbers, spears of romaine, tomatoes, and/or chunks of pita bread in the hummus and tzatziki

Lettuce Wraps - Spread leaves of romaine with hummus and then toss everything else on top of it - good with lots of feta

What I Usually Do With It: Just make a plate of everything and roam around the plate dipping stuff and cramming stuff in my mouth.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2014 [10 favorites]

Strongly seconding the idea to start planning meals, at least until you're in the habit of eating reasonable amounts of food at regular intervals. Even without any exercise, 1000 calories is very low; if you're exercising even remotely strenuously, and it sounds like you are, 1000 calories is not enough to maintain your body in good health. Figure out a more reasonable amount of calories for your activity level using tools linked in this thread or elsewhere, and plan out some meals of foods you enjoy that will get you to the right ballpark. Are you really not eating any grain products, other than the occasional oatmeal you mentioned? Whole grain products in moderation are not unhealthy for most people, contain nutrients and fiber, and can help you get to a more reasonable caloric intake.

Importantly, all this advice should be disregarded if you think you may have problems with disordered eating. In that case you really need to seek therapy, whether you want to or not - eating disorders are very complicated and advice from strangers who don't know your situation can do more harm than good. I'm concerned about your phrases like "it's more than I would otherwise prefer to eat" and "I also feel bloated and somewhat unattractive if I eat too much", and your mention of binging, when all these are taken in the context of eating so very little food, particularly when it isn't even junk food. Sometimes it's easier for other people to see it than for you to recognize it in yourself - have you talked to anyone about your eating habits and attitudes towards food?
posted by randomnity at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

You have a cause/effect confusion which is quite common. It is in vogue right now to try to accommodate what you believe your body is asking "listen" to yourself. That's backwards.

Your body follows, it doesn't lead. It evolved that way over the course of millennia of sharply varying abundance, climate, and foods. It makes due on the fly, and however you accustom it determines what it will seek. Skip breakfast for a week, and your body will lose its morning hunger. Eat dessert at lunch three times in a row, and you'll get sugar cravings on the fourth. Whatever you give it, it finds a way to make do...and to yearn for more of same.

So do this: Work out a smart, healthful, viable diet (if possible, in consultation with a nutritionist; if that's not possible, just do some online learning). Keep your body on it for a disciplined week. And it will soon adopt, thrive, and even insist on more of same (unless, that is, you mix its messages and foul its training via inconsistency).

Speaking to your current inclinations: not enjoying microwave meals and takeout is good! Those things are not healthy. You're lucky not to crave them. Less processed food is best. Work from "primary sources" - the sort of foods available before modern food processing (I'd use the term "whole foods" if it didn't have connotations of an expensive, sanctimonious brand name). Sounds like that's already your inclination, which is excellent. You're closer than you realize! Get some help in putting it all together, and then lead your body, consistently, until it thrives on the diet. You can make little tweaks later to your prefs.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:59 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think what you're eating sounds so scandalously bad, *except* for the glaring exception of sufficient fat. I would be frying those eggs in a huge amount of good butter, and always make it two or three eggs. Never just one egg. Otherwise, my diet looks similar to that, *however* I always look for ways to add coconut oil/heavy cream/red meat. I also resent eating, but when I get enough fat, it changes my feelings about food entirely.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 10:01 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

For the lack of inspiration problem, find a cooking magazine that you like and subscribe to it. Every month when it arrives, you'll (hopefully) feel inspired to try out a few recipes and add to your repertoire and skills.
posted by Leontine at 10:29 AM on September 16, 2014

In line of the cooking magazine suggestion, there are tons of foodie blogs you could follow. For instance, Budget Bytes seems like it might be up your alley--tries to be healthful and inexpensive.
posted by foxfirefey at 1:03 PM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pick a breakfast, pick a lunch, make sure it's enough calories and until you get your hunger back, at the VERY LEAST, just eat the same thing each day.

What you're eating is definitely not enough, so you're probably compensating for it with what you're terming 'binging', but that irregular eating pattern will be wigging your body out - no way for it to predict calories! Better to reduce energy output, and save energy for later where it can!
(Also, compare the calories in watermelon and a piece of toast.
Y'know people talk about empty calories? Watermelon is like, empty nutrients [Well, sugars]. Ha! I mean, no protein, very little calories.)

Get something easy, like packet sachets of oatmeal, and eat them for breakfast. I find if I don't eat breakfast, I'm still starving, but it's like my body gives up on giving me actual hunger signals (Oh well, I'm starving, what can you do?).
Breakfast kickstarts the hunger cycle, and energy levels for the day.
Or, toast with cheese/eggs/something protein-y.

You might then find you actually WANT to eat lunch.

(And right out of left-field - I've known people who were zinc deficient, and lack of zinc can lead to lack of appetite)
posted by Elysum at 2:39 PM on September 16, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. I think portioning out meals ahead of time is something that I could try out. I also like the idea of getting more fat in my diet and just making a really satisfying sandwich or something. I think in general my meal times are already pretty set.

And I think I eat more than just 1,000 calories a day... I usually have dressing on my vegetables, or cook things in oil, and then every few days I eat a lot of peanut butter or raisins or something else that is calorically dense. I probably average around 1,400 calories a day. I've actually gained weight recently, so I don't think that I am starving.... But yeah, perhaps I am not getting enough each day, and then those "binge" sessions (which really aren't binge sessions in the conventional sense-- I'd say they add around 300-400 additional calories) are my body's way of making up for the deficiencies.

Nothing has really happened in the past few months, but I just feel a little "blah" about everything. Food is one thing that has stopped appealing to me, but I think there are other things that I just don't really enjoy anymore. It's just that I notice the food issue the most.
posted by fernweh at 10:19 PM on September 16, 2014

Could you try getting together with a friend for a meal a few times a week? You could cook for them, they could cook for you, you could cook together -- doesn't matter, but eating with someone else would force you to plan out an enjoyable meal.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:29 AM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

And I think I eat more than just 1,000 calories a day... I usually have dressing on my vegetables, or cook things in oil, and then every few days I eat a lot of peanut butter or raisins or something else that is calorically dense. I probably average around 1,400 calories a day.

I'm not so sure that dressing on your salad and the binging would bring your average up that much. I mean, I'm not a nutritionist or anything, but unless you're using a half cup of dressing I don't think it'd be adding that much.

Definitely look into the stocking-the-fridge-with-side-dishes-and-salads thing. I can even give you a recipe for a funky pasta salad right in here right now -

Cook up a pound of pasta - choose something like penne. While that's cooking, take a half-pound of green beans, snip the stems off, then drop them into a pot of boiling water/microwave them for like 30 seconds, until they're just cooked but still a little crisp. Drain and rinse the beans in cold water and dump them in a big bowl. Do the same with the pasta. Add a 4-ounce jar of chopped up roasted red peppers (drain that first, and chop them up if need be) and a half-cup of slivered almonds or hazelnuts. Add about a half cup of any viniagrette salad dressing you want (or enough to lightly coat everything when you stir it up).

Makes a lot, lives happily in your fridge, and is tasty. And I got that direct from the Moosewood cookbook I was talking about (and have made that just this weekend, incidentally).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:44 AM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

And I think I eat more than just 1,000 calories a day... I usually have dressing on my vegetables, or cook things in oil, and then every few days I eat a lot of peanut butter or raisins or something else that is calorically dense. I probably average around 1,400 calories a day.

Where are you getting your understanding of basic nutrition from? Because 1400 calories a day is not enough for your weight, height and activity level. See here and do the basal metabolic rate calculations. I get over 2,000 calories a day for you with even moderate activity.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:43 AM on September 17, 2014

Building up on EmpressCallipygos's pasta suggestion, here's a dish I make that's easy as heck that can be eaten warm as a veggie side dish or cold as a potato salad

Steamed green beans (I either buy the cheap/easy microwaveable bags of trimmed green beans from the produce section, or get frozen haricot vents from Trader Joes, then microwave them with a little water in a big closed Tupperware until crisp-tender)

Small hard/waxy potatoes, boiled (either use fingerling/marble potatoes or just boil small white/red potatoes until cooked through then cube)

olive oil

something in the allium (onion/garlic) family (I like leeks cooked in the olive oil or Sunny Paris seasoning, but you can also use roasted garlic, caramelized onions or shallots, scallions, anything that's not just harsh raw onion)

Gentle fold together the potatoes and green beans, dress with the onion stuff mixed with the olive oil. Coincidentally a vegan and gluten free dish, so it's nice to bring to potlucks and such.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2014

Just a thought, how is your sense of smell? Things like making toast, or other simple cooking that makes good smells, can help jumpstart the appetite. Or, the flip side, is it possible that your sense of smell is dulled for some reason? That could explain part of why you're not enjoying/wanting food.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:42 PM on September 17, 2014

For reference:
I'm same height, and am within 10 pounds (I've not bothered to stand on a scale other than at the Drs in years? I'm definitely not overweight), I walk, but I don't exercise, and my caloric needs are far closer to 2k a day.

If you think you are heading into depression/feeling 'the blahs', absolutely establish some food routines. Don't aim to gain weight, but, rule of thumb, if you're possibly feeling depressed and are not overweight (actually, I wouldn't even care about the latter), it's probably not the time to go on a diet.

Calorie calculator:
Estimates women of your height/weight/activity levels, to need 1800 calories a day.

You could possibly combine the suggestions, and have something more 'treaty' on a daily basis. Brainstorm about what would be different (novel helps!), and a treat for you.
posted by Elysum at 2:49 PM on September 17, 2014

Zinc deficiency can lead to loss of hunger. Might be worth a try - Zinc is cheap.
posted by kjs4 at 5:35 PM on September 17, 2014

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