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Ditch Diet Culture and Step into the Kitchen

By Brianna Tse

It seems that for so many people, cooking has become a chore in their everyday lives. It’s just another part of your daily routine, and sometimes it may even seem like the last thing you’d want to do after a long day. We live in a society that values constantly being on the go, where we must work nonstop in order to be successful and happy. In return, cooking for ourselves has become less of a priority. In a way, we have lost the meaning and joy behind it.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. I find cooking to be quite the opposite.

It gives me a chance to catch my breath, to decompress, and focus on myself. I put on my playlist, lay out all my ingredients (in fancy culinary terms, it’s called “mise en place,” or “putting in place''), and just about tune everything else out.

The experience of starting from scratch to enjoying the final result brings me so much serotonin. It’s really like self-care in some ways.

Cooking doesn’t have to be just for yourself too. It’s a great opportunity to bond with friends and family. Sometimes our lives can get so busy, we don’t always have the time to spend with the people we love. So, why not kill two birds with one stone? Cooking as a family at the end of the day could be a great opportunity to spend time with one another, and catch each other up on what happened during the day. Plus, think of how nice it’d be to say that everyone helped put dinner together?

It also gives us a chance to escape from diet culture, which has been having an increasingly strong influence on restaurants. I’ve found that many restaurants have started to add calories next to each item on their menu. By adding that number, it takes away from the experience of fully enjoying your meal. Your mind might become more focused on whether or not the dish you wanted exceeds your caloric intake goals, rather than the food itself. Some restaurants might even include a “guilt-free” section of their menu. This way of thinking is so upsetting to me. You should never have to feel guilty for enjoying something you like. Diet culture tends to tell us to restrict ourselves, to only enjoy certain foods, but it shouldn’t be this way. You should be allowed to listen to your body without having the idea of “guilt” looming around the back of your mind that robs you of fully enjoying your meal.

When we cook, it helps us to further distance ourselves from diet culture, and make room for intuitive eating. When I’m in the kitchen, the amount of calories is honestly the last thing that’s on my mind. That’s because I’m not necessarily measuring out each ingredient. Even when I am, I’m not looking at all the labels, I’m more focused on the recipe and creating a final product that I enjoy. I listen to my mind and my body, deciding what would satisfy me and make me happy.

Wouldn’t it also be nice to know exactly what’s going in your food, to customize it to your likings, and to even just have the ability to say, “I made this myself”? These are all the joys behind cooking. It doesn’t have to seem like a chore, or just another portion of your day to day life. If you just change your mindset, cooking can be so much more than that.

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