What to Eat When Nothing Sounds Good

This blog article is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical advice.

What do you eat when nothing sounds good?

When you’re NOT hungry or you’re nauseous or you have zero energy, it’s hard to find the motivation to eat something nourishing. 

So, what CAN you eat when nothing sounds good or you’d rather not bother eating at all? And why does this happen?

This post will answer those questions! I’ll give you dozens of ideas for easy, balanced meals that involve little to no meal planning, cooking or prep time. Also, I’ll address why you might be experiencing a lack of hunger and what to do about it.

Let’s get to it.

Why nothing sounds good to eat

When food doesn’t sound appetizing, there may be a few things going on. 

First, there may be an issue with your appetite, mood or a change in your taste preferences.  Or, there may be a medical or mental health issue. Either of these might be coupled with simply being sick of eating the same foods over and over again.

If you’ve experienced changes in appetite, consult your healthcare provider to understand the cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Here are a few reasons hunger, appetite or desire to eat may change:

  • Pregnancy
  • Illness, such as a the flu or COVID-19
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety or overwhelm
  • An eating disorder 
  • Aging 

In many cases, you may need to eat even if you’re not physically hungry. In Intuitive Eating we call this eating for “practical hunger.” 

Because your body needs energy consistently throughout the day, eating about every 3-5 hours keeps your energy steady and prevents you from getting “hangry.” I call this practical eating.

Practical eating can help keep you nourished when pregnant or fighting an illness. Likewise, it can help you recover from an eating disorder, prevent binge eating, regulate blood sugar and mood, and lead to better nutrition overall.

Why you need to eat when nothing sounds good

Even if your body isn’t sending you signals that it’s time to eat, you still need the energy, vitamins and minerals that food gives you.

Skipping meals and snacks in the short term will lead to low blood sugar, irritability, heightened anxiety, and poor mood. You might feel weak, tired, dizzy or lightheaded. Likewise you might get headaches or have difficulty concentrating and focusing.

Over time, eating less than your body needs leads to malnutrition, lowers your ability to fight off infections, and creates dangerous risks to most of your major organs and body systems.

What to eat when nothing sounds good: comfort food

Whether you feel depressed or nauseous, overwhelmed or just not hungry, it’s hard to make any food sound good. The mere thought of cooking a meal can make you feel exhausted.

It’s perfectly okay to rely on convenience foods and comfort foods from time to time to make getting nutrition a little easier. Plus, some foods have the added benefit of providing emotional comfort, such a foods your family served when you were a little kid.

Here are some suggestions for what to eat when nothing sounds good:

Easy comfort food

  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Mac and cheese with frozen peas
  • Scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit
  • Toast with peanut butter and banana
  • Cereal with milk and fruit
  • Canned stews or soups
  • Spaghetti and frozen meatballs
  • Ramen with added tofu and spinach
  • Sandwiches – PB&J or whatever you like
  • Rice and beans with cheese and salsa
  • Crackers, cheese, veggies and hummus
  • Deli meat, nuts, crackers, fruit
  • Frozen burritos
  • Frozen pizza

What to eat when nothing sounds good: no cook meals

Creating a balanced meal doesn’t have to be complicated or involve cooking. Snag a few items from the pantry or fridge and you’ve got yourself a balanced meal

Most balanced meals include:

  • Carbohydrates (grains, breads, pastas, potatoes)
  • Proteins (meats, eggs, fish, tofu, dairy, beans)
  • Fiber (veggies and/or fruits, whole grains)
  • Fat (nuts, seeds, oils, butter, cheese)
What to eat when nothing sounds good: Image of a balanced no cook meal plate consisting of hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, tatziki, pita bread, and olives

Plate up some carbs with a protein and some fiber and you’ve got the vitamins, minerals, and energy needed to fuel your body for a few hours. Fats add flavor and satisfaction, so add a little bit to your plate.

Keep in mind, skipping meals and snacks will only make things worse. To that end, try to keep some of these no-cook and easy to cook foods on hand in your pantry, fridge or freezer to make meal prep feel manageable:

Carbs for energy:

  • Whole grain crackers
  • Whole grain breads, bagels or english muffins
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta, rice or other quick cooking grains
  • Pre-cooked frozen grains

Examples of proteins:

  • Peanut butter or other nut butters
  • Individual yogurts or cottage cheese
  • Canned tuna
  • Boiled eggs 
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Hummus and tatziki (Greek yogurt dip)
  • Deli turkey or chicken breast 
  • Mozzarella string cheese sticks
  • Frozen cooked shrimp
  • Frozen veggie burgers or veggie crumbles
  • Frozen chicken patties/nuggets

Convenient veggies:

  • Bagged salads
  • Pre-cut fresh veggies
  • Canned beans or vegetables
  • Canned chili
  • Frozen vegetables 
  • Pasta sauce

Fruits for fun: 

  • Whole, fresh fruit
  • Frozen fruit
  • Canned fruit
  • Apple sauce
  • Snack-sized fruit packs
  • Dried fruit

Fats are fabulous: 

  • Olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, etc.
  • Nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc.
  • Seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Butter
  • Cheese
Image of a balanced no cook meal plate consisting of cottage cheese, almonds, apples, crackers, carrots, and chocolate covered strawberries

What to eat when nothing sounds good: breakfast

If you’re not in the mood for your usual breakfast foods, try some of these options to get the nutrients and energy you need to start your day:

  • Smoothies: Blend together some frozen fruit, yogurt, and milk or a plant-based milk alternative for a quick, nutrient-dense breakfast.
  • Avocado toast: Toast a slice of whole grain bread and top with mashed avocado, salt, and pepper and an egg for protein.
  • Oatmeal: Cook up some oats and top with your favorite ingredients, such as berries, nuts, or nut butter.
  • Scrambled eggs: Whisk together eggs, milk or a plant-based milk alternative, and your favorite spices, then scramble in a pan for a quick and easy breakfast.
  • Yogurt parfait: Layer yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit in a cup or bowl for a satisfying breakfast.
  • Toast with nut butter: Toast a slice of whole grain bread and spread with your favorite nut butter for a protein-packed breakfast. Add bananas, apple slices or berries for a delicious, sweet topping.

What to have for dinner when nothing sounds good

If you’re not feeling inspired by any specific dinner options, try some of these ideas for a satisfying meal:

  • Soup: Make a simple soup by sauteing your favorite vegetables then adding cooked protein (such as chicken or tofu) and a flavorful broth.
  • Salad: Create a big salad with a variety of greens, chopped veggies, nuts or seeds, and an easy protein such as sliced turkey or ham from the deli. Bagged salads make a great starter for this meal!
  • Sandwiches: Who says you have to cook? Make a sandwich with your favorite fillings for a comforting dinner. Add fruit and veggies on the side for a balanced meal.
  • Stir-fry: Stir-fry your favorite vegetables and protein (such as chicken or tofu) with a flavorful sauce. Many grocery stores now carry pre-sliced raw veggies to make cooking this meal even easier.
  • Pasta: Cook up some pasta and top with your favorite sauce, such as marinara, pesto or a creamy cheese sauce. Toss frozen veggies into the hot water in the last few minutes of cooking to add fiber and vitamins. Add a cooked protein for balance.
  • Tacos: Fill soft or crunchy taco shells with your favorite protein (such as chicken or tofu), veggies, and toppings.

Final Thoughts

When you need to eat but nothing sounds good, try to find comforting, easy to prepare foods that appeal to you. Frozen, canned and convenience foods, as well as no-cook options, can be helpful for these times. Preparing balanced meals is key to good health.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that food is just one aspect of your well-being. For example, moving your body, getting enough sleep, and practicing stress management techniques, such as meditation or mindfulness, can help regulate appetite and promote overall health. 

If you’re experiencing ongoing changes in appetite, mood or taste, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. A registered dietitian can help if you are struggling with an eating disorder or a mental health diagnosis that makes eating a challenge. You’re not alone!