Of cooking, food, and other things that make me smile

I was reading one of my regular blogs earlier and the post set off a lightbulb in my head.

I love to cook. I learned how to bake when I was 11 or 12 starting with boxed mixes. Then I expanded to making desserts and pastries from scratch (frosting is stupidly easy). Then I expanded into cooking when I lived on my own. Since I’m currently splitting my time between my parents’ house and Boy’s apartment, cooking and eating have become a bit of a hot mess on toast. Lunch is either a frozen meal or bought from the cafeteria at work. I totally forget there are microwaves by the cafeteria and end up eating my lunch at my desk in a rush because I don’t want to look like I’m slacking off. Not the goal. My mother, God love her, is very territorial with her kitchen. The only opportunity I have to use it is when she’s either out of town or asleep. Otherwise, you enter her domain to be served or microwave something if you don’t like what’s on the menu for dinner. She shows her love by cooking for my dad and me every night. Rarely do we get take out or delivery. I appreciate that, but a lot of times I want to do my own thing. Which usually means microwaving something or picking up food. At the other end of the spectrum, Boy lets me have free rein in the kitchen. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and he doesn’t care. I find that I tend to fall back into my old habits even when I’m with him. Something quick and easy, typically that can be microwaved or picking something up on our way back home.

In an effort to save money, we decided to only eat one meal out or get takeout between Friday night and Sunday night. That’s only been moderately successful. Frequently, we find ourselves at the grocery store as an afterthought. We went to Target for something else and rummaged through the grocery section. Trader Joe’s was on the way from Point A to Point B. It’s almost never a case of going to the grocery store with a list and the intention to get all the ingredients for several meals or one recipe that would provide enough for several meals. That’s the first step. The next step is actually taking the time to prepare things. I have several recipe apps on my phone and food blogs I enjoy reading. Trader Joe’s website even offers recipes for all kinds of meals with everything available to get in the store. Boy is a carnivore, I could live happily as a vegetarian. He likes sweet stuff, I can take it or leave it. However, he’s got a very short list of things he won’t eat and I’m the picky one. As the main cook, I have way more control over what’s on the menu. Cooking or otherwise preparing food with intention is the real crux. Lastly, sit our butts at the table, turn off the TV, ignore the smartphones, and have an actual meal with each other. Studies have shown that without those kinds of distractions, you eat more slowly and your body has time to register satiety with your brain. That can take up to 20 minutes. If you’re scarfing down a burrito in front of the TV, before you know it, you’ve overeaten and feel disgusting (totally scientific).

Most of my eating habits have become just that. Habits. I eat a lot in the morning, mostly just because I’m bored. I’ll have breakfast anywhere between 7a-830a on a work day because I’m actually hungry. I’ll have a snack around 10a out of habit. Then I’ll eat lunch around 1130a out of habit.  I’ll have a cookie with lunch out of habit. And I’ll go all afternoon without a snack. Some days, it’ll be 8 or 9p before I eat dinner. I ignore my body’s cues and eat even if I’m not hungry or to the point of feeling bloated and overly full (like right now). I know that’s crappy for my metabolism and general health. If I know I’m going to be doing some kind of physical activity after work, I’ll try to have a snack in enough time to digest before getting the heart rate up. Most of the time, I totally forget that. Then I’m starving after class and way overeat again. Thus the cycle continues. Like any other habit, it will take time to break them. When I’m at work, eat lunch in the cafeteria. Sit at a table while I eat breakfast. If my breakfast is a latte on the way to work, take my time drinking it. Set an alert on my computer to have a snack before I go to class, even a handful of trail mix. If I think I’m hungry, drink 16oz of water, wait 20 minutes, then determine if I’m actually hungry or just doing it out of habit. Time to embark on breaking those habits, experiments in cooking, and not relying so heavily on foods that can be cooked in a microwave or form a grease puddle in a bag.

In light of the news of my coworker’s cancer yesterday, I compiled a list of the things in my life I so often take for granted and should celebrate more often:

I live in a first world country with access to clean water, electricity, food, computers, and smartphones * My family and friends are healthy * Aside from the epilepsy, I’m healthy. All my vitals and bloodwork are excellent. * I have a crazy, weird, mismatched group of friends who I wouldn’t trade for the world * I have the ability to walk, jump, run, dance, and contort myself in unnatural directions * I make people laugh * I have a job with benefits and I boss I love * I can finance my expensive hobbies * My parents let me live with them without the expectation of rent * I have people who are willing and able to drive me around for 6 months so I can still work * My form of epilepsy is easily managed with medication and common sense about taking care of myself * I’m in a happy, loving, and mind blowingly awesome relationship with someone I would do anything for * I have people who are happy to help me and guide me when I find myself in situations I’m not sure how to handle * Kitten cuddles * Getting to watch my (surrogate) nieces and nephews grow up from day 1 * Lush body products * Paid holidays * Waking up next to Boy even at 630a * Ballet classes * Cosmically speaking, having the world by the tailfeathers

XOXO!

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