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Help me manage my anxiety around cooking!

Community Member


I have recently come home from inpatient treatment for anxiety, depression and disordered eating (bingeing). One thing I am supposed to be doing more of in my recovery is cooking (rather than letting my partner do it).

I don't enjoy cooking, and since I've also had to quit sugar (treatment of IBS), I am finding it even less enjoyable. But since I've come home I seem to be feeling even more anxious than usual about it. I get overwhelmed about having to cook, overwhelmed about planning what we are eating and overwhelmed about shopping.

What's going on? Do other people experience extreme anxiety about cooking? How have you overcome it? What are some strategies to manage it so that we can eat a normal dinner without it becoming a catastrophic event?

11 Replies 11

Community Member
Hi there girlonsafari,
Me again, I also struggle a huge amount with cooking and my dietician is just getting me to buy pre prepared meals for now because the aim is just to feed myself regularly right now and cooking isn't happening. I also find it really overwhelming just finding prepared meals online. I totally hear you - the entire process of planning, shopping etc is just totally overwhelming. Do you have a HAES dietician who can help with guiding you through this?

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi girlonsafari,

I'm so sorry to hear about your anxiety around cooking. I personally get anxiety around food as I also have recovered from a binge eating disorder, so I understand how overwhelming it can be. I particularly have a difficult time in grocery stores.

The way I have managed this is actually by getting Hello Fresh deliveries. It's nice being able to choose the meals that you're going to cook each week without having to really plan them. It might be a helpful transition from hating cooking, to having some real guidance with Hello Fresh and then moving on to cooking independently. Do you think that might alleviate some of the overwhelm you feel about the process?

Hey Guest_206. What's a HAES dietician? I've thought about pre-prepared meals but then got worried about the cost. Have you found them helpful?

Hey socialmoth, thanks for your message. I'm glad to hear Hello Fresh is working for you. I have thought about pre-prepared meals but haven't managed to follow it up yet. It could definitely work as long as the cost was not too stressful. I imagine that taking the stress out of choosing, shopping would be useful.

Have you found anything else helpful? Have you ever journaled about it? Or done any support groups?

Community Member

I love cooking. It is one of my true positive escapes. I feel better about it every time I cook.

Everything you need to know about technique is on YouTube and personal blogs that show up in google search.

It's hard for me to give advice because I don't know about your budget/accessibility to fresh food/dietary requirements.

Start small with the basic recipes and build on fundamental techniques. If you fry an egg in a frying pan every morning for a week, you will learn a lot and build intuition. You can branch out with that technique and try frying hamburger patties, fish fillets, tempeh, tomatoes and mushrooms. All of these things use a frying pan, but some will require low temps for long time, others need high temps for short time. The same can be said for steaming fish, Steaming Vegetables, or what I have been practicing and failing a lot at lately is steaming Thai Khanom Chan cakes and Indonesian Kue Lapis. Take your time, do some research and feel it out for yourself. Be prepared to fail, sometimes its on you, sometimes its totally out of your control. Just learn from it and keep trying,

If you are having problems with shopping, plan with your partner and try to determine what decisions are hard to make and what ones are easy.

There should be a big group of staple items you buy every week like milk, bread, yoghurt, frozen veges, canned tuna ect that you can write down on a shopping list in permanent marker.

There should be a smaller group of fresh food items. Work out how many KG's of fruit, vegetables and meat your household needs per week. Then you can pick and choose whatever is fresh and in season.

I would highly suggest to not make many decisions in the supermarket. It's too easy to buy things you don't need or aren't healthy because you are anxious and making up the shopping list as you go.

Organize the shopping list at home, then go in and execute.

Maybe you could start by buying the easy staples from the shopping list and letting your partner make decisions on fresh seasonal produce. Or you could arrange online home delivery and just focus spending your time and emotional energy on cooking.

Hi girlonsafari, a HAES dietitian is a non diet dietitian. There are different types of dietitians out there and if you've had an eating disorder it really helps to have a non diet dietitian because we know that diets and restricting food groups is a sure fire way for the eating disorder to come back.

Having pre-prepared meals has really helped me as otherwise I would just be skipping dinner, which is of course really bad. How are you going with it now?


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi girlonsafari,

Checking in to see how you have been going recently!

For me personally I like to keep things simple. Minimal ingredients and easy quick cooking is my preferred way of doing it and helps to make sure I do end up cooking.

Please keep us updated on how you go! We are definitely here for you!

Thanks everyone! All the support and information has been really helpful.

I started using Hello Fresh last week and so far so good. I have cooked 3 meals which is basically 3 meals more than I would normally cook. I like that the ingredients arrive in the correct amounts with a recipe card there. All I have to focus on is cooking it. Also, the meals are really yummy and I have enjoyed all of them.

Not much else to report on. I'm still anxious and feeling really low but small steps in the right direction are happening.

Hi girlonsafari,

Wow you cooked 3 meals! That's awesome! I hope you feel proud of yourself - it's a huge achievement.

X g