Cooking for One: Why Cook at Home if it’s Only Me?
Be honest: have you asked the question above to yourself or to a friend? If you have, please go back and read the words. It’s only you? What does that say about your worthiness to be well-nourished?
I get it, I live by myself, too. If you are someone who has cooked for a family or a spouse for many years and find yourself alone, it might seem like a welcome relief. It would be easy to come in from a long day and grab a bunch of chips and a little hummus and tell yourself you’re getting some protein, so what’s the big problem?
But there is a problem on many levels. There is an unconscious, or maybe conscious message here that your nutrition doesn’t matter. Once you start thinking this way, that attitude can filter into other aspects of your life. And this is at the very stage of your life when society can unwittingly diminish you because of your age.
Don’t do it to yourself. Change the script to something like this – “Cooking? Of course, I do! My health and my future depend on it!”
You might respond, “But I hate cooking!” Okay, I hear you. Cooking is not your favorite pastime. So, let’s clear up some of the obstacles that got you to this place of hating cooking.
Cooking for One: Overcoming Obstacles
You may feel cooking is too time consuming and you’re too tired when you get home. As a health coach, all the recipes I share with my followers are can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. That’s usually less time that it would take you to order, stop at a restaurant and bring home a dish filled with less healthy foods than you could make at home in the same time.
You may say, “I hate my kitchen.” If you hate your kitchen, spruce it up. Toss all your ancient spices sitting in the back of the cabinet. Go to a kitchen store like Crate &Barrel or Sur la Table and browse around. Choose a couple of new items to play with in your kitchen.
Maybe you’re about what’s healthy and what is not. I’m with you on this one. Every day there’s a new authority who tells you this is good or that is bad. My philosophy is simple. Fresh whole foods. No antibiotics or added hormones. Foods you like. Organic when you can. Enough but not too much. Three meals daily. My book Food Becomes You – Simple Steps for Lifelong Wellness gives you all the steps for making this happen easily.
Coping with Loneliness
You reply, “I’m lonely. Eating dinner by myself exaggerates the loneliness.”
Living alone isn’t always easy, especially when it is not by choice. But here’s where you can send yourself the message that you do matter. What you eat matters.
Each time you prepare yourself a healthy meal you will reinforce those thoughts. And because you live alone does not mean you always need to eat alone. I invite a friend to dinner at least once weekly and I eat at someone’s home at least once weekly.
I’ve made a habit of cooking in the same way whether someone else joins me at the table or if I am by myself. The only difference is I make enough for me to have leftovers on the following night. There is a book called If the Buddha Came to Dinner that drives the point home that every meal, with an honored guest or by yourself, should be well prepared and nourishing.
Some women will say, “It will save me some calories.” Actually, skipping meals is a major cause of weight gain. It leads to unconscious grazing where the net result is more calorie consumption than you would have had you eaten a meal. When you eat low nutrient foods, your brain, in its wisdom, will send you looking for more food, hoping the next attempt will be something containing nutrients.
You need the nutrients. Youth holds all sorts of benefits that are hard to notice until they are gone. One of those benefits is managing to stay healthy almost without trying. Traditional Chinese medicine suggests we are born with a certain amount of chi, or energy, that we use up over time.
Once in our 50s or 60s it is essential to regularly replenish that chi or we will decline. It is not the age or the number we reach; it’s the lifestyle we are living that results in our state of wellness or decline. So that is more reason to cook that meal and find a way to enjoy doing it.
Whatever you do, nourish yourself. You are worth it!
Do you like to cook? If not, what would get you back in the kitchen? Will you spruce up the cabinets? Buy some new kitchen toys? Plan a social calendar? Try some new recipes? Please share in the comments.