How Cooking Made Me Stop Sweating the Small Stuff

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If your only frame of reference for what the term “health and wellness” means was Instagram, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it was synonymous with thin, bikini-clad twenty-somethings doing yoga handstands on a beach in Tulum after fueling up with a colorful (and obnoxiously, meticulously arranged) smoothie bowl.

If scrolling through images and blogs like these makes you feel more stressed out—worse about your body—you’re not alone.

I practice yoga and I struggle with body image. I hate smoothies and have never been to Bali, but I like cooking and eating vegetables. Where does that leave me? Am I still worth 2,000 likes? If we look to modern society for insight, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. Wellness does not have a skin color or a body type. It can’t be contained by a pant size, a number on the scale, or a hashtag. I know all of these things, but it’s easy to forget. We can all use a reminder now and then. Here’s what I do when I start spiraling into negative self-talk about my body, my health, my fitness… and my worth:

1. Get back in the kitchen.

Food may sometimes seem like the problem, but in my experience, it’s also the solution. The meals we cook and feed ourselves have enormous healing power. The energy we put into our cooking matters—and I swear, positive vibes make food taste better. When I take the time to feed myself with care, I am reminded of all the amazing things my body can do, and worry less about the way it looks.

2. Put on my “best friend” goggles.

Someone once told me to speak to myself like I’d speak to my best friend. We would never tell a pal her stomach made her look fat, or that she didn’t deserve to eat dessert. So why do we allow ourselves to say those things (or worse) when speaking in our own headspace? My best friend is strong, beautiful from the inside-out, and worthy of love…. and so am I.

3. Get away from the screen.

Eating in front of a screen is one of the worst things we can do for our general wellbeing, but so many of us do it on the daily. I know I’m guilty. But if I take the time to have a proper meal at a table, whether it’s alone or in the company of friends and family, I find that I actually enjoy the act of eating. I stress less about what I should and shouldn’t be putting on my plate, and focus on the flavors…and the conversation. (Besides, no one at my dinner table is doing a handstand in a bikini.)

4. Feed someone else.

When I find myself spiraling down a rabbit hole of BMI, weight, and why don’t skinny jeans look like THAT on me?, there’s one thing that can immediately bring me back to reality: Feeding someone else. The act of putting another’s needs before our own insecurities sends a powerful message to our egos: We won’t be fooled. We know what really matters. This can be as big or small an offering as you want to make it: volunteer at a soup kitchen, drop off brownies to a retirement home, bring a big pot of Quinoa-Veggie Soup to work, or just surprise your partner with a treat. This tip is my secret weapon, because it all boils down to this: The important thing is not the way we look, but the way we treat other people.

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