Meal-prep March series: healing through food

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Girls, what’s my weakness? Soup! Katherine Mutschler

The one where Katherine talks about soup

People meal prep for different reasons. Some do it so they are less tempted to eat fast food. Others do it to save time for meals after work. For me, meal prep became a way to spiritually, physically, and emotionally heal from an eating disorder and an injury. I went from someone who couldn’t even close my hand around a knife due to the amount of pain to someone who looks forward to cooking every day. I will explain to you the benefits I have found for meal prepping in regards to my injury and mental health recovery.

I got badly injured at the piano in 2018 to the point that I couldn’t use both my arms. During this time, I fell in love with baking shows, and the baker’s drive reminded me how I feel at the piano. When I could finally hold a knife, I found the cutting of vegetables and stirring of tofu helped my arm move freely, and by the time I finished a dish, my arm would stop hurting. Smooth motion while cooking can reduce pain as long as you don’t use too much pressure, and cooking became a pain reliever for me. 

Along with the physical benefits of meal prep, the act of cooking must be done in a state of calmness. The scents of the spices, the sizzle of the pan, and the attempt to create the perfect blend of vegetables puts me into a meditative state. When I feel calm my injury hurts less, and then I can put my energy into healing and being relaxed. 

My meal prepping also became a way to heal from my eating disorder. Cooking was a way for me to get to know the ingredients, get a connection to each one of them, learn how they could help me, and then work with what scared me. Even to this day, I use cooking as a way to check in with my fears. I can see what is overwhelming me and practice fighting off the thoughts. If I search for the cultural and spiritual meaning of food, I see it less as something to fear and more as something I can experience and enjoy.

Soup is the food I feel the happiest with; it has become a ritual for me. I always start with olive oil, garlic, and spices. I then put in my vegetables until they are transparent and smell amazing. After that, it is whatever protein and starch I please, plus a homemade broth. Soup was also a way for me to take care of myself when I got ill with COVID-19 in January. I used ingredients full of vitamin C that I knew could help me heal faster. 

Beethoven once said only the pure of heart can make a good soup, and I think of him whenever I nourish myself. My piano studio and I had soup parties before COVID-19, and it was a way to participate in the community. When I think back to those soup parties, I remember the cutting of the onions while my friends played duets on the piano. I remember all of us picking ingredients while the pianists would play with my dog. I especially remember when we would decide to give up on piano for a bit and begin to play video games in the basement before everyone got too tired and decided to go home. Through food I have built a relationship with my body, my mind, and most importantly, with my friends. It is only a matter of time until I find myself cutting onions while my friends play the piano one last time before we part ways for our next adventure.

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