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The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating Acceptance and Self-Care

NEW LESSON: SUMMER 2010

If you desire home-cooked meals, figure out the best way to get them. It is worth going out of your way on behalf of yourself.

Many diet survivors realize that even though they crave home-cooked meals, they do not like to cook. Once you experience how wonderful it feels to make a really good match, you may decide it is worth the effort to cook for yourself, even if it is not one of your favorite activities. You may even discover that some of your dislike of cooking stemmed from the anxiety cause by dieting. If you're someone who doesn't know how to make certain foods, you may want to buy a cookbook, take a cooking class or ask a friend for a recipe. However, if you just can't stand to cook, do not despair! Many grocery stores now sell meats and chicken that are already prepared with special seasonings and ready to put in the oven. Find a frozen meal that feels close enough to the real thing. Or think of a restaurant that prepares meals as close to homemade as you can get without doing it yourself.

Think about ways to cook that require little preparation. For example, a piece of fish or some chicken put in a baking dish with a delicious marinade from a bottle takes only moments to prepare, but can provide you with a satisfying meal. Use a rice or couscous mix and some frozen vegetables to add variety with little effort. Cooking pasta with jarred sauce offers a speedy, warm meal. A craving for Mexican food might be satisfied by opening a can of refried beans and wrapping them in a tortilla along with some shredded cheese from a package, placing it in the microwave and serving this burrito with some salsa. If your tastes are more complicated, that's fine, but you'll need to be willing to make the effort. Perhaps you decide it's worth spending the time to make something special once a week, or perhaps you go to the extra trouble of cooking when there is a dish that really appeals to you.

If you're someone who likes to cook, and already do so, make sure that you are cooking foods that you love. If you like to cook, but do not have the time, you will also need to consider creative options for yourself. You may decide to cook on the weekends when you have more time, and freeze the meals for later in the week. Use prepackaged lettuce, the cut-up fruit at your grocery store's salad bar, or any number of conveniences now available to consumers. You may find that when you give yourself permission to eat exactly what you are hungry for, your need for home-cooked meals may sometimes take precedent over other ways that you spend your time.

Many people have come to rely on fast food for quick and easy meals, and sometimes that can be the perfect match. However, as with any eating experience, it will feel more satisfying, both physically and psychologically, to eat exactly what you are hungry for when you are hungry. If you crave home-cooked food, you do yourself a disservice when you ignore that need. Reflect on whether cooking is an important part of the equation for you.

Activity: Now you're cookin' ...or not!

For this activity, you need simply to begin thinking about your associations with home cooked meals, and consider the following:

  • Are there foods that come to mind that you have not eaten in a while?

  • Is the reason you have not eaten them because they fell into a "bad" food category?

  • As an attuned eater, are there home cooked foods that you would like to reintroduce into your life?

Write down some home cooked meals that come to mind:

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Choose one meal and decide how you can bring it into your life.

Don't ask a butcher's advice on how to cook meat. If he knew, he'd be a chef.
– Andy Rooney