PJ's Fitness Blog

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Is Your Kitchen Lonely?

Copyright Eliot Cohen - Zeitgeist Photography email: eliot@zeitgeist.com.auWhen is the last time you spent some quality time with your kitchen?

My philosophy is all about getting healthy through food and proper nutrition. This involves eating REAL food instead of processed foods, and eating the kinds of foods we ate 200 years ago – before the processed food revolution hooked us on instant gratification and tore us away from our kitchens. 

Heck, even as recent as 40 years ago, we spent time every day in our kitchens, cooking real food that had one ingredient for each item. These items didn’t need a food label or nutrition facts either, because the ingredient list was just one word – like, “spinach” or, “salmon.”

Then along came the processed food revolution, starting with TV dinners and fueled by high fructose corn syrup. People were drawn to the convenience and money-saving factors of food in a box or a bag and gradually traded their stoves and ovens for microwaves.

Recently, as I was looking for a new place to live, one of my top requirements was that it have a rockin’ kitchen. As I was talking to agents and realtors, we were discussing the humor and irony in the fact that nice kitchens are a huge selling point, yet they are rarely used nowadays. Most people want to buy a place with a nice kitchen, but they typically eat out most of the time, and when they do find themselves in their nice fancy kitchen, it’s only to use the microwave.

All the convenient prepackaged and processed foods available now are reinforcing the “instant gratification” nerve pathways in our brains, making those stronger and weakening the pathways in our brains that used to be drawn to the art of food preparation. In fact, for most people, food preparation is downright annoying, where just 40 years ago, it was something that people actually looked forward to. I know I do, because it exercises my brain due to the creative process, gives me a feeling of satisfaction, allows me to unplug and destress, and is even therapeutic in a way, putting me in a good mood.

The same instant gratification nerve pathways that we are reinforcing in our brains with convenience meals are also reinforced with the high sugar content and “fast carb” content of these prepared foods, which gives the brain a temporary “high” that is very addicting. Then, when the subsequent “low” hits the system, the cycle starts all over again with the craving for the chemical “high” along with the insatiable desire to fulfill that craving as fast as possible, which of course, creates the demand for the “convenience food” that can just be popped in the microwave, since it’s so much faster than using the stove or oven.

People often tell me that they “just don’t have the time” to cook their food and prepare things in the kitchen, but that’s really not the case at all. Those same people often the time to eat out in restaurants, and that actually takes longer than spending time in the kitchen. Don’t believe it? Well, let’s just look at a typical visit to the restaurant and break it down by time spent. This of course is different for every restaurant, so I’ll just present it as a list here and you can imagine the time required for your particular experiences:

  1. First, count your commute time to get to the restaurant from your home or work (driving and walking).
  2. Then count the time it takes waiting to be seated.
  3. Now see how long it takes for your menus to show up.
  4. Next, count the time it takes for the server to come back and take your order.
  5. Now you will have to wait while someone else cooks your food for you. Oh, by the way, they happen to be cooking for a whole bunch of other people too, so they will get started on your order when it’s your turn. Oh, and by the way, most of the portions of the food they are “cooking” are either pre-made and packaged, or come ready-made and frozen, so most of the “cooking” is really just reheating or thawing (mostly in a microwave – quite similar to the one you use at home), and followed by arranging and presenting in such a way that it looks like a super talented chef made it from scratch. If you are lucky enough to be at a fancy restaurant that really does cook the food, you will be spending even more time in this step and even more money, but I’m sure you already knew that.
  6. Now you get to eat your dinner, if the order was correct that is. If it wasn’t, then you get to send it back and start all over.
  7. Next, you get to wait for the dessert menu to show up.
  8. Then you wait for the server to come back and take your dessert order.
  9. Then you wait for the dessert to show up.
  10. Now you get to eat your dessert, and they usually do get this right, because the desert is usually pre-made and/or pre-packaged, with very little prep or presentation work, so it’s pretty hard to get it wrong.
  11. Then you wait for the server to come back and drop the bill off at your table.
  12. Now watch the server walk briskly away as you frantically try to pull your wallet out before they get too far away. You’re not quite quick enough though, because your pants are too tight from gaining so much weight on all the restaurant food you have been eating lately. Your brain is all fogged up too and your reflexes have slowed due to the genetically modified food you just ate, so even if your pants weren’t too tight, you’d still be too slow on the draw to catch the waiter in time, so either way, now you have to wait for him to come back and grab the bill with your card.
  13. Next, you wait for the server to run your card and return it to your table.
  14. Then you try to calculate the tip, but that takes some considerable time too, because of the GM brain fog thing.
  15. Now you finally get to walk back to your car. This takes extra time though, because you actually forgot where you parked, since you were in such a hurry to get in the restaurant due to your “famished” condition at the time. Plus, the GM foods have severely hampered your recall ability (aka memory). Or maybe you had the valet park your car for you because you couldn’t find a parking spot within 20 feet of the front door. In this case, you get to wait for the valet to retrieve your car and then pay him more money for taking more of your time. But hey, at least you didn’t have to walk 2 minutes to get to your car. You were able to sit down on the valet bench for 4 minutes instead, while he did all the work – whew!
  16. Finally, you drive the commute back home.

Now for comparison sake, let’s look at the time required to cook at home:

  1. You’re already home, so there’s zero commute time.
  2. You did need to go shopping for your food though, and since your so smart (onnaccounta you don’t have brain fog onnaccounta you eat clean food), you plan ahead and only have to shop twice a week, so assuming that takes you 20 minutes each time, let’s just add 7 minutes here for that part for today.
  3. Now we can subtract steps 2-4 above, because those obviously aren’t necessary. You can get right to cooking your own food for yourself, and look – you’re first in line for that! When you went shopping, you purchased real food that’s organic, instead of pre packaged and ready-made, so you are cooking from scratch, but the total amount of time spent preparing is still less than step number 5 above.
  4. Next, you get to eat your dinner and lo and behold, you got the order right the first time!
  5. Desert is already in the fridge, because you made your Fitness Chocolate for the whole week a few days ago, but let’s add two minutes to this step for prep time for today, because after all, Fitness Chocolate does take a whopping 9 minutes to prepare. This is still a huge time savings though, over steps 7, 8 and 9 above, which you don’t have to deal with now.

You’re done! Steps 11 – 16 from above aren’t necessary either. You’ve also saved a ton of money, and those savings are easy to calculate in your head because you don’t have brain fog and you are much more intelligent because of the clean organic food you just ate.

If you really are as busy as you claim, then you should get back in your kitchen and get your time back there!

It’s a fact: busy people cook in their kitchen. They have to. They can’t afford the time required to eat out.

The real reason people eat out is because society, convenience and processed/prepared foods have pulled them out of their kitchen, and we are fatter and less healthy because of it.

It’s time to get back in your kitchen!