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Confession: I Hate to Cook

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/29/2010 1:26 PM   :  80 comments   :  14,342 Views

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Several common assumptions about dietitians are that they should be pencil thin and love to cook. Well, many are and do, however, I am not and don't. Do not get me wrong, I CAN cook. Thanks to food science and cooking fundamentals courses in college, I am fairly good at it but I do not find enjoyment in the activity. Except for a couple times a year during holidays, it brings no more joy than cleaning my house, washing the clothes, or paying bills. To me, cooking is another task that must be done to care for my family. I do it because I believe it is important for my family. However, it wasn't always that way.

When I first got out of college and married, I could not wait to take what I had learned and put it into action. My husband (the son of a home economics teacher) and I both worked full time and shared the tasks and chores around our new home and enjoyed spending time together as we did. We shopped and cooked together frequently and since neither of us were picky eaters, we liked trying new recipes. We tried to eat very healthy so I could "practice what I preached" to my patients at the hospital. We set up a compost bin in the back yard for our kitchen waste and made most everything from scratch using wholesome foods before they were easy to find.

Fast-forward about ten years and I am a stay-at-home mother of two young children. I worked hard to be the type of mother I had while growing up. We used cloth diapers, dried our clothes on an outdoor line when the weather permitted, shopped with cloth bags, and used natural cleaners in our home. We planted a garden each spring, enjoyed the organic fruits of our labor during the summer, benefited from homemade tomato sauce, and frozen produce in the freezer during the winter. For half a dozen years, I focused on maintaining the perfect home, teaching my children how to respect the earth, eat a well-balanced meal, the basics of portion control and how to cook as they helped me around the house. They learned about grocery shopping, making nutritious choices while finding the best price, and using coupons as we did our shopping each week. I was happy with all that I was providing them but frustrated by how fast my days went by and how hard it was to fit everything in that had to be done while still finding time and energy to enjoy doing things with them. Since I was a perfectionist I took great pride in what I thought I was doing right and set goals to improve those things that I felt didn't yet measure up. At the beginning of 2002, my perspective on cooking totally changed as well as how I viewed many other aspects of caring for my family.

Shortly after I waved my children off to school on the school bus one January morning, I looked in the mirror while washing my hands and noticed something strange on my neck. I probed and prodded to find a large lump that I had never noticed previously. I thought about it from time to time throughout the day as I rushed to get errands run, chores completed, and dinner started before my children came home from school. As I was dusting the family portrait hanging above our mantle, I was stopped dead in my tracks. As I looked at myself in the picture (taken the previous summer), I saw a noticeable bump on my neck that I had never seen before. I quickly ran to the computer and dialed up the internet (a new option I was grateful to have) to see what I could find. Thyroid cancer came up repeatedly as an option on each search I tried. I quickly made my way to the phone to make an appointment with the doctor. A week later, I met with the primary care physician named on my insurance card. Since this was our first meeting, I spent a great deal of time answering no to a variety of questions related to health issues and family history. Finally, she got to the question of, "What brings you in today." I told her of my discovery of the lump on my neck and that I could verify it being there for at least the past six months. She poked and prodded and proceeded to inform me it could be cancer or nothing and further testing would be needed to figure out which it was. After numerous tests that took several additional months, I received word that surgery would be the only way to know with certainty whether or not it was cancer.

During those months, I reflected frequently about our life. Of course, as many people do in similar situations, I worried about what would happen to my children if I were not there. Who would read to them? Who would teach and train them to be kind, compassionate young adults? Who would guide them to be all they were created to be? Who would prepare them healthy, wholesome food and prepare it just the way they like it? I soon realized I was missing the most important things. While I was focusing on being the "perfect" mother, providing the "perfect" home and upbringing and the healthiest food, I was not focusing enough on the moments my children would remember the most time with me. They would remember we had meals together, not that the food was organic and home grown. They would remember that I helped with their school parties and not that I brought raisins instead of candy (unless they were teased about it and then they would remember that instead). They would understand that living healthy was important but what if they thought it was more important than relationships. I soon became concerned that I mixed too many messages and worried that I did not have the time to correct them. What if I were gone and they did not understand that there is no such thing as perfect, only doing the best you can with the circumstances life provides. I resolved things would be different once all this uncertainty was settled.

Luckily, after surgery in April I was informed my thyroid issues were caused by an autoimmune disease and not cancer. I was relieved to receive a clean bill of health although I now lacked two-thirds of my thyroid gland and would forever have to take medication. I was grateful to be well, grateful I would have plenty of time to teach and train my children and grateful that I had taken a closer look at our lives. I decided balance was necessary and possible. I began to see that we could eat healthfully while also allowing time for other important things. I began to garden less and play more, teach less and interact more and enjoying family movie nights without worrying about how unhealthy the pizza was for us. Since that time, our lives have changed a great deal. I work full time again and our children are now busy, active teens that keep our schedules tight. I work hard to maintain the balance I found years before. I am grateful for the life lessons I learned during that difficult time. The biggest lesson I learned is there is no perfect, only doing the best you can with the circumstances life provides. I also learned that finding the balance between health benefit and time consumption is important and necessary. I gained understanding that for everything there is a season and an acceptance that healthy living does not include a one size fits all for all those seasons. I am glad I have been able to grow and learn as I go and can readily accept an imperfect life and learn to thrive in it. I still cook five to six days a week so our family can enjoy a healthy meal around our table together. It is still a task and not something I enjoy, but I still believe it is important for my family. It isn't always the healthiest option, doesn't always include recipes made from scratch with organic ingredients and we do use processed foods when necessary. It is the best it can be for this season in our life. This balance with imperfection allows me to do what needs to be done so I have time to do all those things that I want to be done like spending time with my children while they are still living at home.

How about you, have your views about cooking changed over the years? Have your life circumstances contributed to those changes?


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Comments

  • 80
    I won't say that I HATE to cook, but I would much rather do other things. I know that I enjoy it more since I have met my now husband, compared to before DH. I know that I can control the ingredients and how much is left for leftovers. I don't have the $ to hire a professional cook (maybe in my next life when I am filthy rich), along with a part time housekeeper. But until then, I will cook the healthiest meals I can stand and me and DH will be happier because of that. - 4/27/2011   3:22:37 PM
  • 79
    I hate to cook. All that work and effort just gets FLUSHED the next day, so I don't care about doing it at all. I just like eating "clean" and lots of fresh food with as little cooking as possible. - 12/1/2010   1:48:28 AM
  • 78
    My views have changed about cooking, but in the other direction. When I got married I was an awful cook, hated to cook, and rarely cooked. Some time after we had our boys I began cooking and slowly began to enjoy it. Now, as a stay-at-home mom I cook almost every day, always mindful of healthy options. I'm actually very proud of how good a cook I've become. - 10/12/2010   9:21:40 PM
  • SBATES63
    77
    I also had a life altering experience that changed my perspectives on perfection. I try and live each day to it's fullest and find balance. My life is the best it can be for the season. Well said. - 8/5/2010   2:47:53 PM
  • JACKIEOA
    76
    Thanks. the comments thus far show that cooking and eating mean different things to different people. some equate it with love. some do not. Time and attention are so important and when combined with a home cooked meal so much the better. Or a good restaurant meal. - 8/3/2010   11:05:19 PM
  • 75
    Thank you so much for sharing. Very thoughtful message. - 8/3/2010   10:08:58 PM
  • 74
    Thank you so much for sharing. Very thoughtful message. - 8/3/2010   10:08:56 PM
  • 73
    Wonderful, mature perspective. Thank you for sharing. - 8/3/2010   10:52:53 AM
  • DEOCHS
    72
    Thank You for a wonderful blog! - 8/2/2010   3:24:01 PM
  • 71
    Such a beautifully written story! You had a real wake-up call and can be so grateful things turned out as they did.
    I am 74 and love to cook and put a good, healthy meal on the table. Had 8 for dinner this evening and was thrilled when our daughter-in-law, who is not a vegetable eater, had 3 servings of a summer squash recipe I made for the first time. The squash came from her landscaping/flower garden which has some vegetables growing there also. It is true that people eat more vegetables when they grow them themselves. - 8/1/2010   9:35:34 PM
  • 70
    I too had a scare with thyroid cancer. I have had the left lobe removed, and was fortunate also that it was not cancerous. I do remember the fear in the waiting.

    As far as cooking goes, I have roommates, but we never eat together, so if I cook it is something just for me. That is soooo boring.

    I have decided that on my personal journey, I have to make the adjustments that work into my lifestyle, while making changes is good, there are realities to each of our lives that do not change. I will never be the person who cooks a healthy meal and sits at the table and eats alone every night. I do, but not every night.

    I have, however, learned that my ATTITUDE about food is what has changed. I do eat dinner out about 4 times a week, and eat breakfast and lunch generally at home. It is much easier to do than dinner.

    I no longer feel that I must eat everything on my plate, if there is too much, I either pack it up, or just leave it. I am learning when I am no longer hungry. A miracle that has happened for me. Had you ask me 3 years ago about that, I would have just laughed at you.

    I no longer binge, or punish myself with food.

    I know that there are more changes in my future, and I may even figure out a way to eat at home more, but it will have to be when I am ready.

    The changes I have already made are unbelievable, so I guess I should never say never!

    Love Spark People, it has so changed my life - 8/1/2010   7:03:03 PM
  • DJCARR
    69
    Enjoyed your blog and the message. Valuable lessons. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom. - 7/31/2010   9:36:49 PM
  • 68
    Wow - thanks for sharing. I don't like to cook because I don't like a lot of things and my taste is very bland. I only cook when I have to, but would love to learn how to experiment with different seasonings. - 7/31/2010   8:43:19 PM
  • 67
    While I love trying new recipes and talking about food in my blog on SparkPeople, I am not a huge fan of the process of cooking. It is fun to eat at the end, and it is fun to see what I can create. But the actual process of stirring, chopping, and mixing definitely can feel like a chore!

    But I really like your message about what is important in life. I struggle with my own perfectionist tendencies. In the end, living a full life is all that matters though. - 7/31/2010   8:07:58 PM
  • ONLYTEMPORARY
    66
    Even though I don't enjoy cooking, I always have. Had a family of 5 to care for over the years and made the best meals I could. My cooking is much healthier since there are only 2 of us now. This I have learned because of Spark People. - 7/31/2010   3:18:32 PM
  • 65
    First of all, I'm so happy that it didn't turn out to be cancer but sorry that it was still serious enough that you had to have part of your thyroid removed and are on medicaiton.

    Second of all, I'm so thankful to hear that there is someone else who doesn't like to cook. Most of my friends love to cook but for me it is something I do because my husband has no clue how to. We'd live on boxed macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers if he had to cook. Oh, and ramen noodles. Healthy, huh! Anyway, I always wonder what is wrong with me when I hear everyone around me say how much they enjoy it. - 7/31/2010   1:32:37 PM
  • GAARAMA
    64
    I love to cook and prepare meals for my DH,but diabetes reared it ugly head. Now I eat differently and have had to revamp traditional recipes to make them healthier. My children are grown with families of their own it is amazing how many memories we as a family created gathered around the table.
    Thank you for sharing - 7/31/2010   12:36:52 PM
  • 63
    Very inspirational story. Thank you for sharing your heart! - 7/31/2010   11:57:00 AM
  • 62
    I used to enjoy cooking and baking but now I cook very plainly for health reasons. Sometimes it seems this is just as much fun and interesting because it's quick. - 7/31/2010   8:47:28 AM
  • 61
    I don't think it's fair to say that the kids wouldn't remember that they were fed homegrown and organic food. I've heard from people many times who commented on how grateful they were that their parents were willing to invest in making sure they had really good food available to them. It's crazy to me to suggest that kids will only remember that you ate together and not whether it was of decent quality. - 7/31/2010   12:37:26 AM
  • VANANDEL
    60
    I'm experiencing the opposite since I retired a year ago. I finally have time to enjoy cooking and my husband is loving the new meals (and healthy lunches from the leftovers). This gives us quality time to be together and enjoy our meals instead of coming in tired and trying to get something on the table quickly. - 7/30/2010   7:44:23 PM
  • 59
    I do not like to cook, unless I feel like cooking. When I was married to my first husband, he did most of the cooking, after he died, I only cooked when in the mood. I went back to cooking when I married present DH. He was working steady days. I felt I owed him a 1/2 decent meal when he got home, but he is now retired, and it's back to cooking, when I'm in the mood.We have always eaten out a lot, but it does run into money. I do try to cook healthy, so that for sure is a benefit. - 7/30/2010   7:24:31 PM
  • LIVINGONMYTERMS
    58
    First I would like to say I am so happy it wasn't cancer. I used to love to cook and now I hate it, dread it. I just got tired of the critical attitudes. - 7/30/2010   5:01:18 PM
  • 57
    Tanya--
    You raise so many important issues in this blog:
    -The quality of life for the time that we have on this side
    -The importance of maintaining our values
    -The fact that it can take a crisis to force us to realize our truths

    Many years ago, at the best of one of my doctors, I started going to an MD, PH.D. who was pushing Phen-Fen. And I do mean "pushing". He never took my blood pressure unless I made him. He told me I look great and not to worry.

    Luckily, I watched a news show that highlighted Primary Pulmonary Hypertension, which is not fatal but requires a heart-lung transplant for the victim to survive. Until the person can't breathe at all, there are no symptoms. I was being sarcastic, of course, b/c most victims do die. It was caused by Phen-Fen.

    Luckily, I am highly intuitive. I mentioned it to the MD-PhD. He blew off my concern but said that if I'm worried, my insurance would cover a test for it and he referred me to a cardiologist. Two months later, I had the symptom--no symptom, but as I said, I am very intuitive. I made an appointment with the cardiologist. He was very friendly and talkative until we came to the part of the test that was about the PPH. All of a sudden, he became mute. Not a good sign. He told me to be quiet and we would discuss it in his office.

    He told me I had borderline PPH. He told me to get off the meds right away (like he had to tell me). He tried to reach the MD-PhD. The MD-PhD committed one of the cardinal sins of medicine--he didn't answer another doctor's call. The cardiologist's voice was shaking. He repeated, "Call me on Thursday for the results of your blood work...Don't forget...I'll get a hold of the MD-PhD.

    I spoke with the MD-PhD the next day. His voice was shaking like a leaf. I could read his mind--he was thinking "LAWSUIT"..."LAWSUIT"... I never spoke to him again. I also started martial arts instead, as well as acupuncture in my hands and lost about 50 pounds.

    Since it was "borderline" it remitted on it's own--thank G-d--and possibly due to the heavy-duty exercise and the weight loss and change of diet.

    However, for a while there I thought I was a goner. What occurred to me was not only who would care for my son, but what mark I had left on this earth. I thought about whether I had truly worked to fulfill the destiny G-d had in mind for me given the gifts He had bestowed upon me.

    Of course, the answer was "no" even though I was running an outpatient mental health program for seniors with emotional and physical disabilities, because who can ever fulfill every iota of the gifts that G-d has given us? However, it changed my life forever and definitely made me a better mother and friend.

    Thanks for reminding me of that horrific time in my life. It brings it home for me and helps me focus on the things that are really important today. - 7/30/2010   4:21:17 PM
  • 56
    I was a stay at home Mother by choice. I grew up homeless and Knew I would not let our children miss their mother as i missed mine. I lived with a wonderful elderly Grandmother who taught me to cook and sew. To this day i love to cook and sew and teach my GKids to do those things as i did all 3 of our sons.
    I must say that we went without a lot of things. No TV no lavish Christmad gifts but they appreciated what they had a loving family who spent time together.
    I must admit at 66 years young Dh and i have to budget everything and our grandkids live far away. We visit just as often as we can afford and i make sure they have my attention and encouragement. I usually am asked to cook with them which i always love to do. Pat in Maine. - 7/30/2010   3:56:53 PM
  • 55
    I do not look at my household duties as work. I enjoy providing nourishment for my children. Those duties do not take away time from my children. Often they are helping me and I am training them to take care of their own households.
    In 1986 we adopted a four year old boy from Korea. Ben was a welcome addition to our home and an excellent little brother to our biological son. He just loved food. It gave him great pleasure and he enjoyed being in the kitchen. He was a special needs child so he had a lot of medical problems. I looked at feeding him healthy food as part of his treatment. Don't worry, there were plenty of brownies and cookies in our house. They were made from scratch. I worked full time, paid someone to clean my home and we were a busy family. Lots of church and school activities. There was nothing like sitting down to eat together as a family. Christmas of 2006, Ben died very suddenly while going to sleep one night. I will never forget our time in the kitchen. - 7/30/2010   3:42:20 PM
  • 54
    When I first got married I think I enjoyed cooking more. But as time has gone on I have enjoyed it less and less. I think it is because of financial strains and other strains in my life. It has just became another chore that I have to do. In fact I enjoy cleaning a house more than I do cooking. There are people out there that find it relaxing and enjoying to stuff others faces. I never got that feeling. - 7/30/2010   2:30:05 PM
  • 53
    Thanks for sharing. I appreciate being reminded of what is really important. - 7/30/2010   2:21:59 PM
  • 52
    I love to cook and the more I learn and challenge myself in the kitchen the better I and my food gets - 7/30/2010   1:57:25 PM
  • 51
    I was totally "blown away" about your blog. Your blog and several others in recent days have really changed my perspective on many things. I am deeply grateful for your insight and honesty. Thanks so much. - 7/30/2010   1:21:37 PM
  • 50
    My priorties have also changed in the last few years. A large garden and a clean house are no longer must-haves. Clean barns and healthy animals, however, are still top of my to do list each week.
    And I hate to cook and don't do it very often. DH and college age DS are on there own in the kitchen most of the time. - 7/30/2010   12:54:38 PM
  • 49
    Being part Italian, let me just say that I LOVE to cook ! I was a kid when my mom started teaching me the basics. However, when I was in college, I didn't do much cooking. I relied more on pizza, burgers, etc.. that's what you did back then. However, as I've aged and become more concerned with my health, I went back to cooking my own meals.

    Luckily, I've always enjoyed cooking. So, going back to it was easy. - 7/30/2010   11:08:11 AM
  • WINEDINETRAVEL
    48
    I don't have kids and love to cook. I've always wondered if the responsibility of having to plan and prepare family meals on a daily basis takes some of the fun out of cooking. I'm fortunate enough to have the freedom to cook when I choose to, and on nights when I don't feel like cooking, I may just have a can of soup! - 7/30/2010   10:41:58 AM
  • 47
    I'm very glad you are ok. Thank You for your story. - 7/30/2010   10:36:06 AM
  • 46
    What a great and honest post. And I must say, my thoughts exactly. As I grew up myself with my children I realized it is not important to get to the final stop BUT the journey that takes you thru life. So the moral really is life long and laugh often - 7/30/2010   10:16:26 AM
  • 45
    Good post! If I had it all to do over (those years raising the kids), I hope I would pay more attention to feeding them nutritous meals. I always worked full time and our meals weren't well planned. We did eat together at the table most of the time and the grown up kids are well rounded, healthy, happy people. Guess it all came out well in spite of me. - 7/30/2010   9:55:37 AM
  • 44
    While my boys were home & growing up, I was working full time as a single mom...I HATED cooking! Actually, when I grew up, I loved to cook & collected cook books & recipes, something I inherited from my beautiful grandma. Then, I married a chef who was critical of my cooking skills, except for baking. Again, I hated cooking when my boys were home, I would cook a few things, mostly things that could be thrown in the crock pot. But, we actually ate out or had pizza most of the time.
    Now, that they have gone off to school & moved out & I'm cooking just for me, as well as, trying to eat clean, healthful & pure foods (NO PROCESSED or frozen meals) I'm realizing my love for it again! My kitchen has become a room in the house, instead of that place that I keep the beer! Now, I'm seriously thinking of taking cooking classes! - 7/30/2010   9:47:31 AM
  • 43
    very inspirational article, glad you don't have cancer. i actually like to cook and am always eager to try new things and have my husband be the test dummy and give his opinion. sometimes he likes it, sometimes he doesn't. trying to feed him healthy foods is like taking a cellphone from a teenager. - 7/30/2010   9:45:49 AM
  • 42
    I actually like to cook...at least most days. If I am just exhausted from the day, cooking is a chore. That is why I usually fix dinner at lunch and have it cook in the crock pot all day.

    I am glad that your health is in order and that everything is alright for you. I hope and pray that you also teach your children to respect God and not just the world he created. - 7/30/2010   9:30:50 AM
  • 2RICKIE
    41
    Glad you're healthy, even though you have to take medicine everyday.

    Isn't it amazing, though, that some of the healthiest meals are assembled without a lot of cooking? Stirfrys and quick cooking retain the most vitamins in vegetables. Fruits are better tasting and better for you raw.

    The satisfying whole grain breads take some thought, and wait time, but really no hard work. If you choose to knead the bread instead of using your mixer, you can work out feelings of aggression and/or tension.

    Stay well! - 7/30/2010   9:26:10 AM
  • 40
    Your blog brought tears to my eyes. I'm so happy for you to be able to learn those wonderful life lessons and still end up healthy and with your life. Thanks for sharing. Phyllis - 7/30/2010   9:08:14 AM
  • CMSUNNYMONEY
    39
    I am sooo glad you are cancer free! You say you hate to cook now.......but you were a perfect Mom. My Mom was perfect too..........but I was raised in the '60's; and my Mother was almost the first woman in our whole town to go to work. She worked a man's job hauling the mail as a contractor. She didn't have time to teach my sister, or me how to cook. It was always easier for her to do everything, than to try to show us anything; but I never loved her any less. She was always with us in the evening when my Dad (also a mail contractor driving a bigger truck), worked at fixing televisions and radios.
    I feel like I am the only woman in the world (besides my sister of course) who grew up this way!!! But I am not sorry I can't cook, my husband does all the cooking and he is very good at it. I loved my Mother so very much, and she died of cancer at the very young age of 60. I am almost at that age now, and I am crying because I miss my Mother so very much, and I'll probably cry for her until my death, although I am very healthy. My husband and I eat most meals healthy. I exercise almost everyday and try to live an active lifestyle, like my Mother did; driving a Ford van and filling it full of heavy mail bags 6 days a week!

    A woman who has never cooked.

    Namaste,

    Sunny



    - 7/30/2010   8:17:58 AM
  • FURBALLDTH
    38
    Glad to read it wasn't cancer. My kids were active participants in the evening meal. They were all given jobs equal to their age. - 7/30/2010   8:15:54 AM
  • FERNCREST
    37
    Great post, was on crutches last summer for 3 months and realized how much it took to cook. - 7/30/2010   7:43:49 AM
  • 36
    I started cooking for my family when I was 11yrs old so by the time I moved out on my own, I was totally over cooking. I enjoyed doing partner cooking with friends and roommates or grabbing foods to contribute to bbqs but I don't particularly find it thrilling to cook. I am a good cook, I bake awesome bread(s) and I make fabulous desserts and I would gladly hand it over to anyone else. Living on my own I tend to stirfry or do crock pot cooking or something quick, as it really doesn't interest me to break my back creating a meal. So it was really neat to read how someone who is in the actual field of nutrition doesn't particularly care for cooking either. - 7/30/2010   2:55:41 AM
  • 35
    Its really nice! - 7/30/2010   2:41:40 AM
  • PENGUINROSS
    34
    Wonderful post! It gives much hope to this supreme perfectionist!! - 7/30/2010   2:03:01 AM
  • 33
    I couldn't help but think of this poem as I was reading your blog (which was excellent BTW :).. I love to cook when it's a party - b/c that's all about the people... I love to cook my family's favorite foods when they come to visit as a sign I love them... but when that grandson of mine walks through the door - all matters of work come to a screeching halt...b/c it is PLAYTIME :-)

    (and one more thing...glad you're health issue is resolved :)

    I hope my child looks back on today
    and remembers a Mom who had time to play
    There will be years for cleaning and cooking
    But children grow up when we are not looking
    Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
    Cos babies grow fast, we learn to our sorrow
    So settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep
    I'm cuddling my baby, and babies don't keep - 7/29/2010   10:14:28 PM
  • 32
    Excellent!! TY! - 7/29/2010   10:06:28 PM
  • 31
    EXCELLENT ! EXCELLENT ! EXCELLENT !
    Quality time is so much better for all concerned. Thanks for sharing your heart. - 7/29/2010   9:46:29 PM

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