As a foundational life skill, cooking has the ability to bring joy into the home even without the glorified prepping and gourmet ingredients. Here’s why it’s important to try, no matter what level you’re at.
I was lucky enough to grow up with a family that ate dinner together most nights. While my parents didn’t always cook from scratch and relied on some convenience products, they worked hard to introduce us to a variety of foods and we were encouraged to try new things.
Those cooking skills were transferred to me at a young age, and so much of what I love to do now stems from those shared experiences. I remember learning to sauté mushrooms at the ripe age of eight, standing on a stool in the kitchen, or helping make homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Being involved in cooking in our household as a child built a great foundation for what I needed as an adult to cook for myself.
Now I recognize that growing up with such a health-conscious, cooking-oriented family is a privilege in itself. Not everyone learns to sauté at a young age or even knows how to cook a simple weeknight dinner.
Why? Because one of the most common reasons that healthy eating remains difficult for many relates to a perceived inability or lack of confidence in their cooking ability.
“We’re just two people, no kids“.
“I’m a single guy.”
“I don’t have the time.”
“I just don’t cook.”
Cooking can be very overwhelming for some, especially for people didn’t grow up with a passion around cooking because they simply weren’t exposed to it early on. It doesn’t invoke those same warm, fuzzy feelings about whipping up a home-cooked meal shared amongst family and friends.
Now throw in the fact that our society has turned cooking into a fancy, unattainable task.
Cooking shows on TV, while entertaining, are creating these works of food art while the clock ticks down, and consumers are encouraged to believe that cooking should be restaurant-quality, every single time. But that’s just the very thing that gets lost in all that glorified media: balanced, healthy eating doesn’t need to be gourmet.
So what can be done to change this thought pattern?
First, remind yourself that we all have the capacity to learn if we take the time to practice. We’ve been brainwashed to think of cooking as a nuanced skill, something that requires a lot of time and resources to learn. Go back to the basics, and start simple. Try designating one night a week to cook dinner for yourself, and choose recipes that are easy without too many ingredients.
Second, remember that the act of preparing food for ourselves is a form of self-care and self-respect. Self-respect is such a fundamental part of being a human, and when we don’t treat our bodies well, it’s usually a sign of an underlying stress that’s been shaped the diet- and busy-obsessed cultures of our modern society.
You have a right to be happy and healthy, and cooking can help take you there if you allow it to.
We can learn to overcome potential roadblocks such as low income, skills, and busy lives. These are not excuses nor the fault of those having to deal with them; rather, they should be looked at as an area of opportunity to educate, learn, and grow.
After all, cooking is a joyful act of mindfulness that nourishes our bodies and that of our family’s. It’s an act of self-care, and an expression of gratitude for the body we have for the short time we have on this earth…
With the power to connect each and every one of us.
Adapted from the original article.
Emily Weeks, RDN, LD is a nationally-recognized nutrition and culinary expert based in Fort Worth, TX. Emily believes the path to a nourished, happy life is to develop a healthy relationship with food, our minds and our bodies. She focuses on helping others achieve a life of balance and harmony through mindfulness and nourished bodies. Read more from Emily at Zen and Spice.