The One Thing To Do To Improve Your Health
I get asked all the time what is the ONE thing I can do to improve my health, my waistline, and my relationship with food?
As you might imagine there are multiple answers. Many are of value:
- those that encourage habit changes over time
- more real fuel and less packaged food consumption
- coaching or therapy to hold you accountable or unpack your emotional triggers.
Unfortunately, we are also inundated with many poor answers:
quick fix diets
a reliance on engineered & manufactured “health” foods
- the elimination of the latest “demonized” real food based on a trend
If you’ve read our blog, attended one of our workshops or follow our insta, then you know Alex and I promote healthy habit change and re-connecting with real food. BUT, if you want the ONE thing, the ONE action that I believe must be consistently done to improve your health, your body composition and your relationship with food, then my answer: COOK more often than not.
- Daily cooking means you rely on fresh, real ingredients that are perishable.
- Daily cooking means you control and know exactly what goes into your body.
- Daily cooking means you prioritize your health and your nourishment.
- Daily cooking transfers some of your food satisfaction from consumption to preparation.
When a client tells me “I don’t know how to cook” or “I don’t have time to cook,” that tells me they may want to improve their health and relationship with food but aren’t truly ready to ACT. Why? When you value something, you invest the time to learn “how to”. Equally, when something is a priority, you find the time.
The harsh truth:
When a client tells me “I don’t like to cook,” my answer “Do you like being healthy?” Look, kids don’t like doing a whole lot of stuff (homework, brushing their teeth, picking up their room). Frankly, neither do I (Ummm let’s see: laundry, cleaning the house, driving my kids across creation). You would never tell your child, “oh, I didn’t realize you hate to brush your teeth. Just don’t do it then!” No. You would teach them the lasting value of doing necessary tasks. Not doing something necessary, or of value, simply because you don’t enjoy it is childish. (Remember, I said harsh! The truth often is.)
Look, I get it! I grew up in a house where the rule was: if the house is on fire, then make your bed. I would whine, “Why?!?! I am only gonna mess it up tonight.” My dad explained, “Cashy, a disciplined person starts the day by doing what is unpleasant FIRST. It is not about the bed. It’s about building your character. Doing small, unpleasant things well, sets the tone of your day. Making it a habit to do things you don’t like first, well that sets the tone for your life.”
It does not matter if you don’t like to cook.
If you value your health, then you will cook. It does not matter if cooking feels like a chore. Get over it. Accept that your attitude makes it a chore. Change your attitude. Shift your mindset from the task to the outcome. Because it is really not about the bed. It’s about the end result of doing what is necessary: nourishing your body and improving your health.
So, this begs a bigger question. Why has cooking become drudgery for so many of us?
I began as a passionate cook. I grew up in a house where people cooked. My mom made our everyday meals. Nothing fancy. Just good, simple food that meant HOME (still does). My dad had a flair for the impressive (because he cooked when he felt like it!) and it was always a spectator sport: live lobster, re-creating a fancy chef’s meal, and sourcing exotic ingredients. My mom taught me that cooking was a love language. My dad taught me cooking was an adventure. But as a mom to four, I learned to hate it! I allowed cooking to become a chore, a thankless task and something I HAD to do.
This shift in attitude was a slow decay rather than an overnight transformation; more a death by a 1000 cuts:
- Years of constantly being distracted and interrupted, so I screwed a lot of stuff up. I began to believe I couldn’t cook.
- Years of being greeted at the table by “Ugh, what is that?” (even when I didn’t screw it up). I began to believe I wasn’t a good cook.
- Years of watching Martha Stewart and Food Network create masterpieces. I began to believe cooking was too complicated, too time-consuming and I didn’t measure up.
And finally the nail in my passionate cook’s coffin:
- I allowed my children’s palate to lead my cooking (anything not to be greeted with Ugh!). Cooking became repetitive and chore-like. I believed “Why cook? No one likes it. It’s a waste of my time. They love Kraft Mac and Cheese (and it’s easier for me). (Can you hear TAPS in the distance or is that the world’s smallest violin).
If cooking is a drudgery to you (or has become one), then I encourage you to examine why. For me, I lost my way. I forgot that my kids aren’t a disruption in the kitchen but needed to be made part of the process. I forgot that cooking is not about me or the response I receive; it’s a love language. It’s in service to my health and the health of those I love. I forgot that cooking is an adventure, a creative exploration, and not a photo op representing some false ideal. I forgot that I am not a short-order cook, but a parent who prepares nourishing, nutrient dense food to slowly broaden my children’s (and hubby’s) palates over time (a lot, A LOT.....,.of time).
I am not asking you to become passionate about cooking (though I will tell you much like anything of value, consistent practice of a dreary task leads to joy in its undertaking eventually), but I am telling you that your mindset makes the difference.
An inescapable truth:
Cooking more often and from real ingredients (not boxes) will improve your health, body composition and relationship with food. Cooking is immeasurably valuable. You are literally producing something that keeps you alive. Do it often and you and your family will become healthier. Learn to do it well and the rewards will go well beyond just physical health.
Cooking strengthens families; creates tradition and memories; builds connectedness, encourages conversation and slows down time.