Are you a member of the army of Americans who spend a couple of hours per night watching Food Network but order in or step out for their dinner, or reach for a frozen meal? Do you take your own lunch to work or do you wait until you’re ravenous then run out for fast food?
I love to dine out and I bow to the knowledge of any well-trained chef (heck, I spend time in France every year),but, if you’re struggling with your relationship with food, you have to get to know it better. That means getting down and dirty with it in the kitchen, preferably yours.
It doesn’t have to be a major performance. It can be something really simple such as a make-ahead soup or a simple salad.
You can plan ahead and cook once, but eat two or three times. You’ll save a heap of money on eating out, especially if you take your own lunch to work. If you live alone and don’t want the monotony of eating the same thing over and over, pick something that freezes easily and as your cooking repertoire increases, you’ll have a delicious selection of homemade meals from which to choose. Better yet, hook up with a couple of friends once a week and exchange dishes. If you each make a dish that is meant for six, you’ll have two of each of theirs plus your own to get you through the week.
What has this got to do with losing weight and getting off the dieting roller-coaster? Step one is to gradually start introducing healthier foods into your diet and that’s not going to happen while you’re standing in line at the pizza parlour.
If you’re reaching for a burger and fries every day, then we need to undo that habit. If you make a batch of my White Bean, Kale and Sausage Soup, you’ve introduced one of the most important greens into your diet while barely noticing it, you’re getting fiber and tons of micronutrients from the beans, and I’ve even thrown in some sausage so you don’t have to think of it as healthy, if that’s how you’re inclined. A serving has 315 calories and it’s delicious. You can take some to work for lunch and be the envy of the office, or you can even have some for breakfast if you’re in a hurry. And your wallet is thanking you…(This recipe for delicious roasted garlic soup comes from a renowned restaurant at $8 per bowl despite the cheap, simple ingredients. Make it yourself for about the same price but feed six people).
Cooking your own food means that you can get to know your ingredients. Never cooked with swiss chard or brown rice before? Try them – you have nothing to lose. You’ll also develop your own palate and learn what you really enjoy.
Also, restaurants use lots of butter, salt and a host of unknown goodies which is why dining out is – and should be – such a treat. As your kitchen confidence increases, your repertoire will expand and I’ll be providing plenty of simple, healthy recipes here with fresh ingredients.
Eventually your body will feel better because of the healthier ingredients and you won’t crave the bad stuff any more or at least not as much. It worked for me and it’s worked for my clients. Bon appetit!