I was blessed to grow up in a home where home cooking was the standard. We ate together almost every night, and enjoyed my mom’s home-cooked food. Not that is was always wild or gourmet cuisine– sometimes just grilled chicken breast with rice and salad. But it was always fresh, hot, and made by someone I loved. Unsurprisingly then, I love cooking.
I started cooking when I was about 12, and I was horrible. I made pasta with raw garlic for my first dish, flavored with cold vinegar. My family (respectfully) choked it down. Almost ten years later, however, I’ve become pretty savvy in the kitchen. Tonight for dinner I made my family red lentil dal with eggplant and red chiles, using spices I seldom use like coriander and cumin seed. Planning it, hunting down the spices in the store, cooking it and eating it, was all part of a joyful (and somewhat challenging) process ending in a delicious, spicy meal. And while making this, I’ve come to realize this: that cooking may just be the best cure for an eating disorder.
So many folks I’ve spoken with who are recovering from eating disorders say that learning to cook was their saving grace. I think I could say the same, to a large extent. Preparing a meal from start to finish, trying out new recipes and even new flavor profiles removes you from the calories, the counting, and the anxiety. Food becomes what it truly is about: flavor and nourishment and love.
If you don’t know how to cook, don’t worry — nobody knows how to cook in the beginning. Start small. Buy a new vegetable you haven’t eaten, and roast it in the oven with some salt. Throw a new herb into your morning eggs, instead of thinking about the calories in yolks and whites. Then, enjoy it. Really savor it. You just might find (like I have) that the ED thoughts are a little bit quieter, and your body feels a little bit better.
*The image above isn’t the dish I made, just one I pulled from the Internet from Food Network by Aarti (Check out her recipe here). Mine was similar, though.