Being a dietitian, blogger and food lover, I often get asked these questions:
- Do you like to cook?
- How often do you cook?
- Do you cook every day?
- Do you cook like this all the time? (That’s when I have people over, and it always makes me giggle because my dishes are really not that fancy!)
Often, I feel the burden people attach to cooking. Couples shoving the food-making responsibility on each other; moms complaining of how much time and effort it takes to cook; oh, and my favorite, people with an attitude thinking that they’re better than spending time in the kitchen — “I don’t waste my time cooking.”
Are you saying I waste my time cooking? I’m glad I don’t take things personally!
Cooking Is a Chore
Most people view cooking as a chore, just like other never-ending housework, a burden that takes them away from other priorities in their life — whatever they may be. Regardless of our life situations, from full-time workers, to stay-at-home moms, to single parents, to college students, we’re all busy. But why do we complain about cooking so much?
Take showering for example. We don’t think twice about the act of washing and cleaning our bodies from the outside. Why is spending 30 minutes three times a week to make food at home, which helps us clean our bodies from the inside, so demanding?
What a chore!
While some have an attitude problem with cooking, I truly believe that many people just don’t know how to cook. They’ve never practiced, never seen a parent chop an onion, or think that cooking means fancy expensive tools and ingredients. Some may have given it a stab, didn’t get a result they wanted, and were quick to label themselves as “bad cooks.” Some think cooking takes a long time — and it doesn’t have to. Others have seen their parents and grandparents whip up amazing meals that took a whole day to prepare, and that’s a no-no in our busy fast-paced lives.
But I Can Eat Out
Bring restaurants to the picture and you’ve lost cooking enthusiasm to convenient, at-every-other-corner establishments. Weighted down in the comfort of your warm car seat, you can pay few dollars and get a hot, smelly thing to eat, overloading your taste buds with salt, fat and sugar. Mmm, now that’s appetizing!
And upscale sit-down restaurants are not that much better. Chefs, even the most health-conscious ones, aren’t in the business of health. They’re in the business of making dishes that people will like so they come back over and over. That often means too much butter, oil, salt and sugar. Then there’s the problem with huge portions. Business again. You’ll go back to a restaurant that served you a large meal. You’ll tell your friends to go there because it’s such a good deal — just not for your waistline, unless you’re packing half of it for the next day. Large portions mean more business. Those of you who never returned to a restaurant because it served nutritiously sensible tiny portions, you know who you are!
I started writing this post last night then put it aside to join other dietitians for a Twitter chat. The topic was clean eating — talk about a buzzword — and the chat was highlighting a dietitian and chef colleague of mine, Michelle Dudash, who has a book, Clean Eating for Busy Families.
When asked about our definition of clean eating, almost everyone said cooking at home.
Cooking is not a chore. It’s something you do take care of yourself. It’s gift to yourself and to those who share a life with you. You don’t have to be an iron chef, Julia Child, or have your own cooking show. Cooking doesn’t have to mean making gnocchi or flambe or homemade pasta from scratch.
My clients who see me for IBS, migraines, fibromyalgia and food sensitivities learn to cook at home. They need to know what’s in their food and control what goes inside their bodies to relieve their symptoms and live without their pain. Many don’t know how to cook or where to start, but after we work together to develop meals, and once they learn simple recipes and techniques, they love it. They feel much more empowered, healthier, and move lively.
Embrace cooking. Learn basic skills. Equip your kitchen with basic tools and ingredients. Look for easy recipes with ingredients that you like. Put some music on. And have fun!