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Brain Rest Day Nutrition

Read to me!

You wake up, and you know instantly, you’re just not having it today.

You’re groggy.

It feels like you’re moving through water.

The very thought of the word “productive” gives you a headache!

You my friend, need a rest day 🙂

Girl, Sleep, Female, Woman, Young, People, Dreaming

I want to be very clear. This post isn’t about making sure you eat all your veggies even though you’re fatigued beyond belief. This isn’t a “get motivated you can do it despite exhaustion!” kind of post…

Nope. This is about leaning into that rest day. It’s about really relaxing to the max. Because you know if you try to push through, if you try to take on that warrior mentality, tomorrow you will pay for it even more.

Your brain injury doesn’t always give you leeway. When it needs to simmer down, you have to pull back and take it easy. And considering food and eating are a significant proportion of your day, we want to make that as easy as possible on you so that your rest isn’t sabotaged by stressful nutrition plans.

Dishes, Dishwasher, Dirty, Kitchen, Housework, Dish

This post comes to you inspired by own “mulligan Monday” that happened this week.

I had a to-do list.

I had work that I just couldn’t muster.

The very thought of the word “productive” gave me a headache!

I had some solid rest and made nutrition easier on myself. And by the end of the day, I was back to my regular “human” state 🙂

So are you ready to make the most while doing the least? Read on to figure out how to nutrition while leaning into resting.

Your compassionate rest day nutrition strategy


The goal for your nutrition on a rest day is a delicate balance between wanting to get enough nutrients so that your brain & body have everything they need PLUS not creating a lot of work for yourself around food.

This means we’re aiming for:

  • Simple decisions
  • Food prep that uses the lowest amount of dishes & kitchen items possible (for less clean up!)
  • Meals & snacks that are familiar to you with the fewest steps to make


The best ideas are truly the ones you are guided to come to yourself. The ideas offered here may not connect with you. Or, you may adapt them to better suit your situation. Because on a rest day, doing something new or following someone else’s strategy is work. Consider the ideas here inspiration to get you what you need 🙂

1) Have a list of your go-to meals & snacks at the ready

When you’re hungry is the absolute most difficult time to make a decision on what to eat! Your brain is low energy and your stomach is yelling at you to get ANY food in.

As mentioned in my free online Insta Class, take the labour out of food decision-making: start a list of your favourite easy go-to meals & snacks. Add to it as you go along. Post this list somewhere visible. When you’re resting and you need the decision made for you, allow the list to give you the answer.

I don’t know what your go-to’s are, but for me they are grilled cheese & tomato soup, or pasta with roasted veggies, chickpeas and cheese, or frozen berries thawed with a thick yogurt, nuts and seeds, and some avocado chocolate pudding if I got some 🙂

2) To lower prep, you can try more frequent snacks throughout the day instead of large meals

Not only do big meals require more energy to prep & cook, but they also require more energy to eat & digest!

I know some people think we need to be eating balanced meals, where one meal provides all the food groups… but really, at the end of the day (literally!) it just matters if you’ve had different food groups at some point during the day or even the week — they don’t need to all be eaten together.

Food Platter, Cheese, Salami, Smoked Beef, Tomato

Finger foods can make easy great snacks throughout the day:

  • berries, grapes
  • Grape tomatoes, mini cucumbers, carrot sticks
  • Whole grain crackers + cheese
  • Milk-based smoothie
  • Yogurt parfait
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Hard cooked eggs
  • Deli meats & sausages (to make it sound fancy, you can say you’re eating ‘charcuterie’ 😉 )

Right now my snack foods are toast with peanut butter and raspberry jam, grapes, yogurt, crackers & cheese, deli meats, carrot sticks, and yeah, I’ll have a cookie or some chocolate in there too 🙂

3) Breakfast for dinner

This is one of my faves 🙂 Typical north american breakfast foods tend to be easier to prepare than lunches and dinners. We don’t need to keep these specific foods for specific times of day.

I have definitely had toast or cereal for dinner in my history. And I love me some pancakes or waffles with scrambled eggs one evening a week if possible!

So break free. YOU’RE RESTING. You can eat outside the box 🙂

4) Tea & hydration

Tea can be a good source of nutrients and comfort 🙂 Plain green tea or black tea offer antioxidants and polyphenols. Add some milk to it and you got yourself a plethora of extra nutrients. Have a British style tea time with crisps, crumpets or biscuits as accompaniments.

As for hydration in general, don’t let it fall by the wayside, but also don’t let it become the only thing you consume. I’ve had clients whose appetites faltered because they were drinking and filling up on too much water. Yes, you need water and yes you need to stay hydrated. But don’t let it take the place of food.

5) Set an alarm for your supplements & medication

I don’t know about you, but I forget to take my pills on the regular. And on a rest day, time has no meaning.

If you’re like me and a number of other people out there, you might have supplements or medication that have to be taken at certain times, at meals, or 2 hours before or after a meal. Those supplements and meds don’t work if we don’t take them, and for some, it could really affect their symptoms.

Round Blue Alarm Clock With Bell on White Table Near Snake Plant

The goal is to feel good. Going off your regular nutrition plan for a day or two is really no big deal. You’ll catch those foods up this week — the weekly pattern is usually more representative anyways. But some supplements & meds might have more immediate effects & consequences. So for the ones that are crucial, try telling Siri or any other AI to remind you about them. Or, simply set an alarm.


Making nutrition easy on a rest day does take a little bit of planning. And it might take a shift in mindset if you’re hyper focused on getting nutrition “right” every single day.

Two Person Eating Pancake on White Wooden Floor

Food can absolutely be stressful. And it absolutely doesn’t have to be.

If you want the motivation, accountability, and to really commit to a long term nutrition plan that allows you good nutrition, PLUS relaxing food on rest days that support your health, then you need support.

Check out my TBI Nutrition Masterclass. I’m taking new clients! Join a group of people who share your struggles. You don’t have to be alone in this. All together we will get you better nutrition than you ever had even before your injury 🙂

Go here to learn about your TBI Nutrition Masterclass.

May I wish you the best in brain rest,

Krystal Merrells

Registered Dietitian