Eating is fundamental to our existence. It’s non-negotiable: if we want to continue living, we must eat.
And to eat well, we either need to cook for ourselves or have access to somebody who can cook for us.
Yet cooking is an underappreciated skill in modern society, despite how unequivocally important it is.
Cooking is so important, but nutrition isn’t taken seriously enough from an educational perspective. When it is treated with respect (usually at degree or postgraduate level), it is often theoretical, detached from the hands-on practical process of cooking.
When I was at school, learning about cooking wasn’t an option. I grew up believing it was something you just picked up as an adult and got on with.
(Because, of course, it’s not like I’m required to eat every single day of my life. Unlike mathematical equations, which I’ve needed all the time since the moment I completed my last exam.)
Learning how to cook isn’t a joke. The biggest jokers are the government departments who dictate our school curricula. Sadly, their inadequacies have real-world consequences.
We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic made worse by corporations selling nutritionally vacuous food in the name of profit. These companies aim advertisements at children and make meaningless pseudo-nutritional statements about their products. Yet nothing sufficient is done to prevent it.
And the health services are stretched to the absolute limit in the UK, with funding being cut right, left and centre. Research suggests many illnesses are preventable if sensible health decisions are made earlier in our lives. Not curable, unfortunately, but nevertheless preventable.
Wasn’t it Hippocrates who said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”?
So why doesn’t the government educate children about the important life-saving benefits of cooking in a meaningful way? Why isn’t there more proactivity, more focus on helping people to make better decisions for their health?
Most people don’t know how to cook sufficiently any more, not like the generations that came before. And the ramifications are heart-breaking.
But what has all that got to do with me?
Well, I love cooking. But it took a lot of trial and error over the years to get to the position I’m in now, where I’m confident with what I can produce in the kitchen.
I didn’t really cook much at home when I was growing up. Mum and Dad took care of that. And at university, I dipped my fingers in a bit but I was usually too hungover to try anything beyond adding tortellini to a pan of water or placing a packet of something grim in the microwave.
It was in my twenties, when I first moved in with my (now) wife, that I really started caring about what I was doing in the kitchen.
Cooking works out muscles in my brain. I find it meditative and rewarding, like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. I often listen to new music while I’m in the kitchen. Barking orders at my Amazon Echo – “Alexa, set a timer for ten minutes!” – has been surprisingly helpful, too.
This interest in cooking led me to want to explore the health benefits of food further.
That’s one reason why, during the past year, I’ve completed two weight management projects: my 100 Day Diet Challenge and my 100 Day Health Project. For the former, I cooked every single meal from scratch and lost forty-eight pounds (twenty-two kilograms). For the latter, I prepared over ninety-five percent of my meals as part of a weight maintenance plan.
At first, I wanted to get some of my recipes from my 100 Day Diet Challenge on to The Writing Struggle, especially after getting asked about them on Instagram.
Then, as I cooked a wider variety of healthy food as part of my 100 Day Health Project, I got even more requests for the recipes.
I realised people were interested in my cooking and I wanted to get them more involved with what I was doing.
Since launching The Writing Struggle, and as my confidence has grown with my writing and with my food photography, as well as with my actual cooking, it seemed the missing piece of the jigsaw – what with all that diet challenge and health project discussion and Instagram picture-posting – was publishing some of my recipes.
Having recipes published on The Writing Struggle means, if any of my readers would like to try their own diet challenge or health project, they have a starting point of tasty options to try out.
And, my word, do I know how annoyingly easy it is to forget recipes.
In fact, let me tell you a secret…
Publishing my recipes isn’t just about my audience. It’s for me.
I use The Writing Struggle for my own reference, so I can remember how I cooked different dishes and so I have a record of some of the meals I’ve enjoyed during the past few years.
In time, I hope to be able to hand some of these recipes down to future generations of my family. Recording them ensures I’ll be able to do this.
By sharing some relatively simple recipes which create delicious dishes, I hope I’m passing on some of my enthusiasm for cooking to others. Hopefully, this will help them improve their health, too, like it’s helped me.
And how does publishing recipes fit with my message about managing personal projects? Well, a personal project could be to get more confident in the kitchen. It could be to undertake a diet challenge or health project. It could be teaching a child or loved one a simple healthy dish.
Whatever the case, by publishing more and more recipes alongside my other work, I hope to underline my belief in the importance of cooking and support anybody else who believes the same thing with achieving their goals, whatever those goals may be.
Read more about my 100 Day Diet Challenge and my 100 Day Health Project here:
Do You Want to Lose 48 Pounds in 100 Days? I Did it by Creating my Own 100 Day Diet Challenge. Here’s How.
My 100 Day Diet Challenge: An Introduction
10 Steps to Success
50 Days: A Review of the First Half of My 100 Day Diet Challenge
My 100 Day Health Project: An Introduction
Is Dieting Cheap or Expensive?
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