I’ve always cooked. As long as I remember, I was a part of the kitchen. Whether that was (sometimes unwillingly) being recruited to chop potatoes or peel carrots, or to stir the sauce while Mom did something else – or the best, to ‘clean up’ the bowl of brownie or cookie batter. I was very lucky that way.
Up until my partner moved in, I hadn’t lived with anyone for nearly a decade. I will tell you this: cooking for one can sometimes suck. It’s a balance between cutting the recipe to manageable portions and not getting sick of what you’re cooking. I find even now the most I can do is 3 days in a row of a given recipe – usually 1 dinner and 2 lunches.
What flexible dieting has taught me about cooking is the balance of protein, fat and carbs, including how little protein I actually often eat. And it reminded me of something I forgot while I was gaining weight for the 2-3 years before. Portion size. While in the United States it’s much more pronounced, it’s creeping into Australia as well – the portions you get at a cafe or a restaurant, especially if it’s on the less expensive side, do not usually reflect what a single serve of something actually is (for the most part). Often it’s at least one and a half serves, and more often than you would think 2 serves.
A serve of mash is 2 heaped tablespoons – less than a closed fist. A serve of chicken is 140g – or about the size of a deck of cards. A single serve of cashews is a handful, and comes to about 16 cashews. 16 cashews?! When the fuck was the last time you actually just ate a handful of cashews, or half a fist of mashed potato?
Always having cooked and the concept of flexible dieting found me re-evaluating the recipes I used, the ingredients I chose and how I planned leftovers. I got a lot more precise with everything, even cooking.
I actually paid attention to how much oil or fat was used to cook with rather than just throwing some in the pan as everything was heating up. I’ve chosen recipes with higher protein and less carbs. And I actually weighed out all my leftovers, sticking to portion size rather than guessing and hoping there would be enough to satisfy me.
It’s a strange thing, to realise your own relationship with food is evolving, and being self-aware enough to recognise it. I will always lick the brownie batter out of the bowl, though. Can’t convince me to stop doing that.