Weight Loss Bootcamp Extreme
Step Six. Cooking For Yourself.
Now we’re going to think about cooking at home. This is something that has steadily declined over the last thirty or forty years in the West as fast-food outlets have burgeoned. This is roughly the same period over which an epidemic of obesity has spread across the same countries.
Is it a coincidence, I wonder? It’s a bit paradoxical too; every time I turn on my TV, there’s a cookery program on. MasterChef this, Cake Bake-Off that. You’d have thought that that would have seeded a new revolution in home cooking. But no, fast food is as popular as ever.
On top of this, and as I said before, there are simply millions of cook books available. Is anybody actually cooking from these books or are they just looking at the pictures?
I was recently looking at an old photo of hundreds of workers pouring through factory gates, probably about ninety years ago. There must have been something like two hundred men in that photo and there was not a single fat person to be seen.
Not one. This was long before the advent of cheap burgers, chicken nuggets, pizzas and all the rest of this stuff. All of them ate their meals at home, every one of them.
Fast food just didn’t exist. It’s not the full story, of course, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that meals cooked at home are likely to be lower in fat and sugar than their restaurant chain counterparts.
Now, many people don’t know how to cook themselves a decent nutritious meal. The education system must bear some of the blame here. Time was when both boys and girls, but girls in particular, learned the fundamentals of cookery. Or self-reliance, as I’d call it.
That doesn’t seem to happen much these days. Now, this isn’t a cookery book, it’s a book about your attitude to food, so I’m not going to go into the details of how to prepare individual dishes. But a few general principles are worth discussing.
When you cook your own food, you are investing your own time, money and effort into it. This alone is likely to encourage you to take it seriously. And because you have control over the finished product, you are in a position to manipulate just about every aspect of its preparation: ingredients (especially how much fat & sugar), cooking method, cooking time, cooking temperature, herbs and spices, sauce, garnish. You name it.
Aren’t you much more likely to appreciate a meal that you’ve prepared with care and attention yourself than one that’s been anonymously thrown together out of a series of plastic bags in the back kitchen of a fast-food outlet? I think so.
I ought to point out that buying and preparing your own food can also be a lot cheaper than continually buying from the chains. You can buy supermarket packs of meat, fish and vegetables at a fraction of the price charged in restaurants.
You’ll need to put your own time and effort into it, of course, but standing in the kitchen being thoughtful and imaginative about your next meal has got to be better than lolling on the sofa in front of re-runs of I Love Lucy, gulping down a burger from a polystyrene packet, hasn’t it?
Now, many people, faced with the prospect of cooking a proper meal for themselves, and possibly the whole family, are likely to grab a recipe book and follow it line by line. That’s all very well for a beginner but it’s not what I call cooking.
You could just as easily be reading out instructions on how to build a dog kennel. I’ve never been an advocate of recipe books. They don’t help you to develop your own ideas and skill set. Simply following instructions is not the way to learn.
You need to experiment and do things for yourself to begin to understand your food and how to prepare it.
So, my recommendation is to take a look at the recipe books by all means, see what sorts of foods you’d like to cook, get the ingredients together then shut the book and start teaching yourself. You’ll find that it’s a far more satisfying approach to cookery.
The other aspect over which you have complete control is what is called in the food manufacturing business, portion size. All of a sudden you are in complete control of what goes onto your plate and, ultimately, what goes into your stomach.
Let’s talk about portion size. It’s a fact, some of us have huge appetites and some of us just don’t. And it’s amazing just how much it’s possible to eat in one sitting. You only need to watch an episode of Man vs Food to see that. It’s quite possible to eat over 20,000 calories in one sitting if you have a mind to.
But this is extreme eating and, as you now know, our plan is to move you away from all that ‘stuff your face’ type of thing and adopt a much more mature approach to our food.
So, in addition to thinking about what we eat, we need to be thinking about how much of it we eat too. And, as I said some pages ago, for many people, in this ‘supersize me’ culture, the ‘how much’ is more of an issue than the ‘what’.
We need to think about what we put on our plates. Now there’s nothing more dispiriting nor more likely to remind you that you’re cutting down on your food intake than to look down at your plate and see large areas of white China staring up at you from between a few bits of vegetable and a lamb chop. It is far better to use a smaller plate and cover it evenly.
The amount of food is the same but it looks more when it’s filling an entire plate. This is a useful little psychological trick that we can use to our advantage. By the way, you might be interested to know that a 10-inch dinner plate has a surface area of 78.5 sq in whereas a 7-inch side plate covers just 38.5 sq in. Less than half the area! Put the ten-inch plates in the cupboard and use the smaller ones for a while.
Another tip is to go shopping after you’ve just had a meal. If you’re not hungry then the likelihood of your succumbing to the supermarket’s clever tricks is likely to be much reduced.
When you understand how to buy, cook and how to serve and eat your food, then you’ll find that this new approach will yield great dividends in terms of helping you to cut down on your food intake.
Take Away Message from Step Six
Cooking (and shopping!) is a skill that takes a little time to develop. But if you make a start now, you can start progressing down the road to understanding much more about your food. And by understanding your food you can control the ingredients and be sure of what goes into it.
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