Food you don't have to think too much about eating
January 9, 2019 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm on two medications that 1. almost eliminate feelings of hunger until after I get home from work and 2. make me slightly queasy. As a result, I keep skipping lunch, which is bad. Recommendations for stuff I can eat?

It's not like I'm gagging if I try to eat, say, a burger - I just let it sit there and I don't really eat it. This isn't every single day (and it goes away by eveningtime), but it's a lot of days, and it's really annoying. I'm considering switching to taking the queasymaking med at night, but it isn't optimal and I can't switch the other one.

I have already identified a few things that work for me - blended soups, high-protein smoothies, smooth tuna salad. Basically, things that require almost no chewing and can be consumed quickly.

If anyone has experienced this, or has any other suggestions for pap-like foodstuffs that I can trick my dumb stomach into eating, I would really appreciate it!
posted by showbiz_liz to Food & Drink (41 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Those yogurt drinks (or kefir) are good for this, too.
posted by praemunire at 1:37 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Polenta, which is basically the Italian version of grits. You may have seen polenta in a firmer version at the supermarket, but this recipe makes a softer version, which is sort of like a porridge consistency; all you need is fine cornmeal, water, butter, and salt. Throw in some grated parmaesan cheese, and for an all-in-one meal, stir in some pureed squash or some cooked chopped spinach. If you think you can handle some chunks, you can thrown in a handful of thawed-out frozen peas as well (polenta is actually a good canvas for "I have some scant veggies I need to eat in some fashion, lemme throw them into something"). Or top it with pasta sauce.

You may see "coarse grind" polenta in the supermarket; that may be a little grainier. Regular old cornmeal works just fine and may give you the consistency you want right now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Hummus, eaten with a spoon rather than pita or vegetables?
posted by Lexica at 1:45 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]

And good luck - medication side effects are the pits. (Ask me about the medication I took that gave me a metallic taste in my mouth 24/7 while I was taking it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I know people who use Soylent for this exact purpose. It's fast and easy, plus it has the advantage of being "nutritionally complete."
posted by ochenk at 1:48 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]

Campbell's makes "soup on the go" that is easy to hold in he hand and has a sippy opening. IIRC all the pieces including the noodles are very small.
posted by radioamy at 1:48 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]

I used Ensure for this purpose but don’t buy too many at once bc they start tasting like chalky shit right quick.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 1:52 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Plain Greek yogurt with plain granola, sweetened with honey. My breakfast every morning, when I'm too groggy to make real food.

Also, PB&J sandwiches.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:56 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]

Soylent? Seems perfect for this scenario. Flavor it with fruit of your choice and there you go.
posted by Young Kullervo at 1:58 PM on January 9

My partner is on a medication that reduces his appetite. He always has a six pack of ensure (or the generic brand) on hand because he rarely feels hungry, and ensures are sweet and easy.
posted by Grandysaur at 1:58 PM on January 9

I'm like this. During the day I tend to subsist on some combination of peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon (classy, I know), V8, cheese, Greek yogurt, bananas, dark chocolate, avocado/guacamole, and those weird St. Dalfour lunch-in-a-can things. I am clearly unqualified to dispense nutritional advice but I've always eaten like this and am somehow in decent health anyway.
posted by xylothek at 2:01 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]

i've been eating creme fraiche right out of the tub lately. it's great. however i'm still losing a lot of weight which is terrifying.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:16 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

also if you live near a westside market i cannot recomment nouno's full fat yogurt strongly enough. it is so good. SO GOOD.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:24 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Also, PB&J sandwiches.

Sadly, bread is one of the things it's really hard to make myself eat when I'm like this. Actually I posted this question today because I bought a tuna fish sandwich and then couldn't eat more than a bite of it, until I opened it up and scooped out the filling to eat plain.

These responses are great though!
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:28 PM on January 9

TMI but I had some kind of weird thing last year with open sores on my throat that made it incredibly painful to eat. I lived on chocolate pudding, ice cream, and instant mashed potatoes. The instant mash were delicious and I bet would be really easy to store and make at work. Trader Joe's pudding is delicious, but I also really like Kozy Shack. I'm a huge fan of cottage cheese, but it's not for everyone. Try it with black pepper. I've also dealt with low appetite and usually go for drinkable foods like odwalla, smoothies, and protein shakes. Best of luck!
posted by Polyhymnia at 2:34 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

also justin's nut butters makes individual packets of almond/peanut/cashew butter that you can just squeeze right into your mouth like a baby bird, if they came in a tube like toothpaste i would have one in my pocket right now
posted by poffin boffin at 2:35 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]

Also, cream of wheat! Made with milk and butter.
posted by Polyhymnia at 2:38 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Jook (aka congee) was made for situations like this. My mother used to cook it when anyone in my family was not feeling well, because it's soothing, easy on the stomach, and filling--quintessential comfort food. If you put greens and pieces of cooked chicken or fish in it, you can increase the nutritional value. Plus it's easy to make.

The recipe says the drizzle of sesame oil is optional, but I would consider it imperative! (Unless you don't like sesame oil, that is.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:38 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Instant oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt

Congee is great too ifnyou can find it. In Chinese, it's called "zhou".

(Things I find easy to eat with decreased appetite)
posted by bearette at 2:56 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Hard-boiled eggs may also work for you, if you're fine with the texture. When my entire digestive system was shut down for days once, that was about all I could look at, and I don't even like them very much.
posted by praemunire at 2:59 PM on January 9

Rice pudding?
posted by LizardBreath at 3:06 PM on January 9

Do you have a Mexican grocery or an Aldi near you? Señor Rico rice pudding may be pudding enough for you to feel easy to eat and substantive enough to feel like food without much chewing. The caramel flan is great too and a sheer calorie bomb and no chew.

Seconding cheese. String cheese or cracker cuts for ease. It's worth a little more per pound to make it easy.

I prefer Muscle Milk to Ensure and the like.

V8. There's about a billion flavors now to vary your veg, too.

Avocados, take out the pit and spoon directly out of the skin.

Nutella. Maybe no nutritive value, but if the goal is sheer calorie consumption...

Gatorade or Powerade, to keep your electrolytes up.
posted by joycehealy at 3:09 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I'm obsessed with the frozen mashed potatoes from Trader Joe's — they're delicious, and come in little easy-to-portion pucks. Those, and milkshakes, are pretty much the reason I survived a recent multi-tooth extraction.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:10 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar-ish question on Twitter and it got RT'd by Nicole Cliffe so I got a ton of replies, lol.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:12 PM on January 9

If you can stand it, a cup of buttermilk is about 100 calories and 8 grams of protein.
posted by The Devil's Grandmother at 3:22 PM on January 9

Lentils and rice? If you pressure cook the lentils, you can get to a mash-like consistency that does not require chewing. TJ makes a tadka dal that is microwaveable.

If the queasiness is bad, ginger tea or peppermint tea could help as well.
posted by basalganglia at 3:26 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

What about overnight oats? They're very mushy. There are recipes all over the internet, but I combine in a wide-mouth mason jar:

- 1/2 C quick cook or instant oats (not steel cut)
- 1 C almond milk
- 1/2 to 1 banana, sliced
- a few shakes of salt
- a few shakes of sopices cinnamon, cloves, etc
- small squirt of honey
- handful of frozen berries (you can use fresh, but it's easier to buy big bags of frozen)
- sometimes I ditch the berries and add 2 T of PB2 powdered peanut butter and increase the amount of banana

Shake everything and let sit overnight in your fridge. I usually make 4 jars at a time and eat them for breakfast.
posted by radioamy at 4:08 PM on January 9

I have a similar situation and love the squeeze pouches of apple sauce, even though it does make me feel weirdly like a baby to just suck them out of the pouch. I also have Cliff bars a lot, which might not work since they require chewing. But it’s like five bites to get 300 calories, so it works for me.
posted by sometamegazelle at 4:10 PM on January 9

It might be good to find a beverage that you can keep down that has some nutrients and maybe some sugar in it. Gatorade, coconut water,* and hibiscus/red-zinger tea are good for this in my experience.

They don't substitute for food. They really, really don't substitute for food. Really.

But they make good damage control for food. If you can't eat anything, getting some fluids and electrolytes and maybe some vitamins into you is better than nothing at all. (Also, in my experience, unfucking my hydration and electrolytes sometimes makes me less nauseous down the road.)

*Buy for 99 cents in the Goya aisle, please. The superfood business is annoying and makes people charge way too much for it elsewhere, but it really does have a bunch of electrolytes and stuff, and a bit of fiber if you get it con trozos/with teeny chunks of coconut meat.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:17 PM on January 9

Instant mashed potatoes; applesauce; oatmeal (depending on your chewing/speed tolerance, you could go from baby oatmeal to steel-cut oats with fruit), cereal.
posted by epj at 5:46 PM on January 9

To clarify, it's bad because it makes me irritable and unfocused.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:25 PM on January 9

What about ensure/boost or similar meal replacement shakes? I'm partial to Boost Plus chocolate flavor. Gives you decent calories and nutrients, and it's easy to keep on hand for the days when this is an issue.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:00 PM on January 9

I've been in a similar boat, both due to meds and to oral surgeries. I can't stand ensure-type meal replacement drinks, and quickly get sick of sweet stuff like yogurt, rice pudding, oatmeal, etc. I've had better luck with savory options: mashed potatoes with gravy or cheese (homemade is tastier, but it's something that's fairly easy to find in grocery-store hot buffets or as a side dish at fast food restaurants), various forms of rice-and-pulse mush (khichdi with some plain yogurt and spicy pickle, refried beans mixed with rice and topped with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc), couscous with some kind of sauce or paste like hummus to serve as a binding agent, red lentil soup in any form (ezogelin çorbası is my favorite), risotto, shepherd's pie, and so forth. Mashed avocado is also great; if you're sick of guacamole, try mixing in some kind of tangy salad dressing instead.

If you can stand to chew a few bites of something more nutritionally dense, I find Larabars, these nut butter balls, and string cheese to be the most tolerable quick fuel options.
posted by karayel at 9:33 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

In a similar state, I added lots of butter, salt and torn pieces of smoked salmon to mashed potatoes. Rice with a raw egg and a good shot of soy sauce hits the same carbs-fats-protein-salt spot with a smooth texture. And it's one of the only times where Coke or Pepsi is a good idea - at least it'll give you energy enough to fight the headache, plus apparently it soothes the stomach.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:51 PM on January 9

Those little pouches of baby food actually.

I had been in the same boat as you and then realized that you don't have to eat all of it immediately; you can have a bite or 2 (you don't feel like eating any more of it), place it back on your desk, and have another couple bites in an hour.
posted by fizzix at 6:53 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

Have my recipe for the easiest butternut squash soup ever:

Dump some cut-up squash into a pot and throw in a couple cloves of garlic. Add just enough water to barely cover everything. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until the chunks are soft. Blitz the whole thing with a stick blender, then add just enough salt to taste.

That's it. You don't even have to measure anything, and you can get cut-up squash from supermarkets now so you don't even have to peel an actual squash. You can even get frozen cut-up squash (although if you go that route, I'd use a little less water since the frozen kind will have a lot of water themselves already).

This became my go-to because I find most other recipes for squash add all kinds of sweet or exotic ingredients like curry, orange juice, apple juice, carrots, etc. and I find I prefer just the simple basic squash on its own. (Although, if you find this recipe too bland this means that you can go the other direction and play with spices.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on January 10

Egg drop soup can be consumed without a spoon and would hold well in a preheated thermos. I would loosen the egg mixture with some chicken broth to get thinner curds.
posted by mal de coucou at 8:00 AM on January 10

I mentioned "play with spices" above, and that got me thinking of another overall hack:

Maybe for different pureed vegetable soups, try playing with spices overall. Maybe an especially attention-getting spice combination could help overcome the appetite loss and wake your palate back up a little; so you might go from "I don't really feel like eating, but lemme take a taste of this soup" to "....huh! That tastes really interesting, lemme try that again!.....and again!....and...."

This very "that's an interesting flavor!" thing has worked on me - even if my only interest was curiosity more so than hunger ("....what is that flavor? Lemme try that again.") There are a ton of different funky "spice blends" you can play with from all kinds of cuisines - curries, herbes de Provence, adobo, ras al hanout, berbere, za'atar, Jerk spice blends, etc. Here's an approachable list of options, with basic descriptions of what they're like. Maybe try a couple different puree-of-vegetable soups, but throw in a spoonful of some of these blends and see if this makes your palate go "....huh!"

(And you can turn just about any vegetable into a soup by following the same basic method I mentioned for my butternut squash soup.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]

French fries or similar autopilot-snack-foods? Not sure if this is a long term thing where you're looking for a new normal, or a shorter term thing where you're looking for whatever calories you can get to keep your body going for a week or two.
posted by Lady Li at 9:10 AM on January 10

Steamed rice, butter or oil, and Maggi seasoning or soy sauce, and fresh black pepper is enough flavor without me feeling terrible. For more nutritionally sound foods, and if you have an Instant Pot, just dump cans of black beans and corn and diced tomatoes and your favorite salsa, hit it for like 5 minutes, squeeze some lime and top with sour cream, serve it over rice.
posted by yueliang at 1:23 PM on January 10

Similar to EC's suggestion, I've found that the boxed, shelf-stable vegetable soups are immensely improved by adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and (if I have the time/energy/interest) doing a quick tarka by frying black mustard seeds and maybe some hing in hot oil, then adding to the soup. Often the aroma of the frying spices helps boost a maybe-there-maybe-not appetite, I find.
posted by Lexica at 3:31 PM on January 10

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