by Lindsay Lea
It took me 26 years to get into the kitchen, and when I finally did it was not by choice, but rather necessity.
I was raised on Bisquick, Top Ramen, and “homemade” meals that mostly came from a box or a can. My mother was a product of her generation, and the daughter of an absent single mother, so she was doing the best she could with what little she’d been taught. My parents divorced when I turned 12 and I spent the remainder of my adolescence living with my father. I don’t think he’s ever cooked a day in his life: his idea of dinner is fast food or frozen burritos.
I had no one to teach me to cook, and no reason to think there was any other way to eat, so I continued my horrible eating patterns throughout college and my early twenties.
After struggling half of my life with chronic illness, I went to a holistic doctor at age 26 who finally explained to me what a healthy diet looks like. Leaving her office, I was excited to think that I could actually improve my health just by changing my diet. But having spent so little time in the kitchen, I was also completely overwhelmed with how to change my diet.
For instance, I was supposed to be making and consuming bone broth daily but I had no idea where to find chicken bones. I actually believed that you could only buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
My friends and roommates stepped in to help keep me from getting overwhelmed and giving up. They took me grocery shopping, showed me how to cook a whole chicken, supervised making broth, and prepared delicious, nutritious meals for me. I learned how to meal plan, how to batch cook, and how to take control of my health–naturally.
Just like building that group of friends, healing my body didn’t happen over night. The best things take time—like slow cooked meat or well-simmered soups. It is a slow process, but it is worth it.
It took me a long time to actually believe that I am a good cook. But as I develop my skills, I have found encouragement from friends and have started using this talent to serve others; preparing nourishing meals for sick friends or new moms, or teaching my sister how to properly store vegetables and giving her tips on how to sneak spinach into her children’s dinners.
Over time my habits have changed as I learn to make healthy choices every day. But what is more surprising is how my views of food have changed. Food is no longer just something that my body requires to stay alive. Food is medicine, and I am thankful that I am able to provide my body with the nutrients it needs to perform optimally.
I used to ask God why I was in so much pain all the time. Now I thank Him for making my body so intricate that it is able to heal itself. I thank Him for helping me to recognize the signals my body is sending.
I firmly believe that how you treat creation reflects how you feel about the Creator, which means I can honor Him by providing nourishing meals for my family and myself. This new perspective has caused me to find joy and hope in my kitchen.
It is amazing to look back and see how far I have come. It may have taken me 26 years, but that is proof that it is never too late! It’s never too late to learn how to cook, it’s never too late to reach out and help someone else, and it’s never too late to take the steps needed to improve your health!
Lindsay recently left her job at a non-profit to become a stay at home wifey, which means she spends her days reading, knitting, and cooking real food! She writes about her spiritual and physical health journey at Choosing Health. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.