Stop Skipping the Kitchen: Food Preparation Boosts Your Health
While standing in line at my local Whole Foods, I happened to look up to see the phrase, “Make food, not war.” Usually most catch-phrases quickly pass through our conscious thought into our subconscious trash bin.
However, that day, “Make food, not war,” struck a chord with me, partly because it is continuously becoming more apparent that there is waning interest in the kitchen and food preparation and healthy cooking.
Most of us feel like there is no time to prepare food because of our busy schedules.
With such a demanding daily routine, it feels like there is simply no way to fit in yet another task. Then there are those of us who feel like we do not even belong in the kitchen or have the ability to cook, while others simply do not care or maybe even are bored with food preparation. The result is often the near elimination of the kitchen altogether.
But I can emphatically say, “It is time to stop skipping the kitchen.” Why?
Though some of us might find it unimportant, I believe the kitchen holds a magical power beyond practical influence on our daily lives.
(And if you read to the bottom, I’ll have an answer to how you can get this magic in your kitchen).
While generally we have come to think of the kitchen just as a room where food preparation occurs, most of us do have warm memories of the kitchen. Those memories hold a special meaning and have helped to define who we are.
If one acknowledges not just the practical uses of the kitchen, but the spiritual moments within the kitchen, it is easy to determine that such a space is extremely important within the home.
Cooking itself has a life of its own. When ethnic groups travel to new countries or continents, it has been proven that while the language is first cultural element to be lost, food is among the last elements of culture to disappear, if it ever does.
Once I was invited to have dinner at an Italian-American friend’s house.
Typically I do not tolerate Italian food well; the starches make me sleepy and overall my body rejects what is served. Though reluctant at first, I agreed to attend. My friend’s father and mother were both fourth generation Italian-Americans, neither of whom spoke Italian.
The members of the family long forgot many customs, yet, to my surprise, I was greeted with an Italian feast! The food was superb and erased all of my assumptions about Italian food as being primarily a redundant simple carbohydrate free-for-all.
I did not feel as if I was in a fourth-generation, Italian-American house, as the food seemed to transport us all back in time, especially me. The whole ambiance changed, the food preparation and healthy cooking was the nucleus of this gathering, and the elements around this nucleus were also just as fascinating.
The way the food was prepared and served seemed to have the gallantry and hand coordination of a symphony conductor.
Though one was created to feed your ears and the other your stomach, both certainly hold the power to feed the soul.
Nobody was in a rush to devour the food, as dinner was treated as an experience, not just the consumption of a meal. One moment everyone was carrying on about their own hectic lives and the next everyone was eating in unison, discussing their days with a joke here and there. The father had decided to give me a culture class regarding the magnificence of Italian food. He began by instructing me on the proper pronunciation of the dishes before explaining how they should be prepared and how using fresh ingredients was of the utmost, critical importance.
That night I understood Italian food as an exquisite art form. Through eating a traditional Italian meal, I came to truly understand the power of food and the important influence it holds within our social, cultural, and familial structure.
Most of us have a distant relationship with our kitchens and like with most damaged relationships, healing takes time. But it must happen! Skipping the kitchen is bringing unintended, yet negative effects on the food we eat. But for healing to begin, we must have a good reason to do it. As humans, we act on the basis of our personal set of values and what those values permit us to do is linked to whether we consider something to be important or not. Healthy cooking and food preparation should have extremely high value to you for its impact on your food security, transparency, and safety – and your overall health.
Remove the Middle Man
When you delegate food growth, production, and preparation to industries, you will generally find that their greatest interest lay in profit margins. This often results in culture, the environment, and ultimately our health being compromised. Healthy cooking or food preparation of your own foods assists you in taking full control of your life, after all, ¨We are what we eat,¨ says the old adage. If we really knew how most of the food we eat was grown, handled, and treated most of us would think twice before eating it. Preparing your own food is the best way to eliminate the middle men who pretend to know what is better for us. When you start doing so, you will find that you reconnect with your body and you begin to better understand what is best for you.
When you take the time to purchase, stock, and prepare the foods you and your family consume, you are far more in control of exactly what goes into your mouth (and ultimately your cells). This is something that does not hold true when you purchase pre-made or take-out food. You are giving that power and control to someone who does not have your body’s best interest in mind. Don’t give your power away to food manufacturers as the source of your food and health!
Once food preparation takes a prominent place on your value list, you will find that the ingredients in your kitchen must be scrutinized. You will begin to realize that not all products are created equally. Quality becomes important, as you begin to look for the best possible products available within your individual possibilities. When you consider the options, I believe you will find that locally-grown, seasonal, environmentally-friendly products offer the most quality.
The Impact of Our Health
Foods are our medicine and healthy foods translate to a healthy individual, yet food as health is a more or less new Western view of food. In many parts of the world, leisure, fraternizing, negotiating, romance, communion, devotion, even settling disputes are among the various other worthwhile reasons why people prepared and ate the fruits of their labor. Traditionally the emotions that went in to the handling, preparing, and eating of food were also important, often relating to feelings of respect, grace, and love. This influenced the writing of whole food laws which are still practiced in the Islamic and Jewish laws of Halal and Kashrut. It should be noted that when we are driven by proper reasons and with the proper emotion, health is often an imminent result.
I make a stand for making food an important part of our daily lives. It all boils down to what we consider important. Our forks are, in truth, the most important tools in helping to shape our mental, physiological, and geographical landscape. It is in the interest of ourselves that we eat, not in the interest of food manufacturers. The energy we invest in choosing and preparing our food can change our internal and external landscapes. It is time to get back into the kitchen and bring your body back to better health.
I would love to hear from you. How do you handle food preparation? If you recently started to re-engage with food preparation and controlling how the food you eat is made, what changes did you notice? What was food preparation like in your family growing up and how has it changed for you? Use the hashtags #superfoodprep to share your tips and stories!
Love How You Live,
P.S. if you’ve read this far, than I know you’re really committed to this. We created a meal planning program just for YOU. Take a look, and I know you’ll find joy in your kitchen. The SuperLife 10-Day Nutrition Program.