On a recent trip to visit my lovely friend Jess in Brighton, we got to discussing some of the ways single people (like both of us) sabotage their self-care by not cooking for themselves. How cooking, eating and indeed, enjoying a home-cooked meal for one, is an act of self-love and care and that your culinary skills shouldn't be reserved for cooking for others. I suggested she write a blog about it as it fits so perfectly with The Kindfulness Effect ethos.....here it is! And it's fabulous...just like her!
‘Urrrgghhh, I can never be bothered to cook just for me.’
Was a more depressing phrase ever uttered? Shuffling around the kitchen in worn-out slippers, forlornly stirring a saucepan of baked beans, tipping them out onto a piece of bland, chewy toast. Hoovering up my flavourless creation without really noticing it, glued to repeats of Frasier. Is this how I thought my life would turn out? Single at 36 after a messy break-up, existing on a variety of beige foodstuffs? Something had to change.
And something did. Fast forward two years, a new home in a new city. Still me, still single, still in the same slippers. But now armed with a diploma in nutrition, a mended heart and a hell of a lot more self-compassion.
Cooking for yourself, properly cooking, is the ultimate act of self-love. I’ll wager most of you make some attempts to exercise, get enough sleep and look after your mental health. Why then, do single people so often neglect to feed themselves properly? Numerous people I know, regardless of age or gender, just don’t make the effort. ‘I’ll just bung a frozen pizza in the oven.’ ‘Just a microwaveable korma for me tonight.’ ‘Last night I just had a tomato’ (that last one was actually me circa 2017 when I couldn’t be bothered to go to the shops). Just, just, just. What a sad little word. Aren’t we worth more than ‘just’?
Living alone is not always easy. Financially, us single folk are at a significant disadvantage. And there’s always that one dress you can’t zip up yourself without a second pair of hands or that bracelet you can’t fasten. But for me, that’s where the list of doom and gloom ends. Living alone affords me enormous amounts of freedom and joy that I really would struggle to give up. And the greatest pleasure of my single existence? Cooking. Cooking JUST for me. I love it and my mission here is to make you love it too.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about 7-course taster menus every night, or Henry the Eighth-style banqueting. This is not about ‘treating yourself’ (bleurgh how I hate that expression). This is carving out the time in your day to source and prepare nutritious, tasty meals that will nourish you and remind you that you deserve to be looked after, regardless of your relationship status or living arrangements. And this is where Kindfulness comes into play, and why it resonates so much with my feelings about nutrition. The idea of cooking as a Kindful act - an act of self-love and compassion. Treating yourself with the same care as you would your family or friends. Bringing awareness to what you eat, how it makes you feel and where that food comes from. Gratitude - both for the planet and people that provided your food, and for yourself for taking the time and effort to prepare it.