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I can't cook

by Allie
(Moncton, NB, Canada)

I am a horrible cook, and as a result find myself eating a lot of processed foods.

What suggestions can you give me in regards to changing my diet to accommodate the fact that I can't cook, while helping me reach my goal of losing 100 lbs?

Also, I'm too shy to go to a gym, and funds are relatively limited. What suggestions do you have for inexpensive exercises that can be done at home?

Comments for I can't cook

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How to lose weight when you can't cook
by: Dr. Dan


Some people can go into an empty cupboard and come out with a masterpiece. The rest of us struggle with cooking sometimes.

You could make a big difference in your diet if you had just a few dishes you liked that you could have on a regular basis. You'd want to make sure they were healthy.

For example, I have eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. I take 4 eggs and crack them in a pan that I spray with olive oil. (Yes, 4 eggs everyday and my cholesterol level is perfect.) I put a lid on the pan.

I have some oatmeal that I already cooked in a big container in the refrigerator. I put some oatmeal in a bowl and heat the oatmeal in the microwave.

When the oatmeal is done the eggs are done. You don't even have to turn them over.

When I don't know what to have for dinner I have tofu hot dogs (I don't eat meat.) I take them out of the freezer, thaw them for one minute in the microwave, and then warm them in a pan with a little olive oil.

I take a tortilla in another pan on low heat, and I melt a little cheese on it. Put the tofu hot dogs in the tortilla and it's a feast.

I have some green beans with it or some arugala (arugala is a bitter kind of vegetable sort of like lettuce.)

Why don't you figure out 2 or 3 things you could keep on hand, that you could eat on a regular basis. Make sure they have plenty of protein and not too much fat. Make sure you get your veggies with it. Then get a friend to help you practice until you can get them cooked right.

And by the way, the problem most people have that trouble cooking is that they put the heat on the stove too high. So everything burns!

Good luck,

Dr. Dan

Help for your cooking and exercise question
by: Anonymous

Hi Allie,

There are many ways to eat healthy without having great cooking skills. Breakfast can be whole grain cereal with skimmed milk such as oatmeal. You can cook this in the microwave very easily. Adding fruit is an option. You can also make scrambled eggs or an omelet in the microwave that cook in a few moments. Keep your choices low carb and low salt also. I don't recommend bananas when trying to lose weight so if you do add fruit stick to berries.

Good snacks are fruit, vegetables and hummus, even a few nuts. Don't be afraid of fats. Healthy fats such as those in nuts and olive oil and dark chocolate are good for you and satisfying.

The ready to eat bagged salad greens now available are so convenient. You can add more vegetables and ready-cooked chicken strips or salmon or whatever meat you prefer. These make a great lunch or dinner. Watch the sodium in the meat choices. Low fat dressings are not satisfying and too salty. Use olive oil and vinegar or ranch or caesar bottled- just look for the least amount of salt.

The grocery store deli has rotisserie chickens that are flavorful and can make a great meal. You can use leftovers for other sandwiches or salads. Some stores will have quiches, cobb salads and other dinner type foods. Again, keep it low carb and low salt. There are some frozen dinner brands, such as Amy's, that are usually lower in salt. Amy's also is made with organic ingredients.

For dessert eat a square of high quality dark chocolate, no less than 70% cocoa. This is satisfying and healthy. Lindt is the best brand I've found, it's found in most grocery stores and relatively inexpensive.

Drinking water, the usual 8 glasses is a day is critical. Avoid diet drinks. Drink green tea instead of coffee.

As far as exercise walking outdoors if the weather permits and the area is safe is great. Start with fifteen minutes or less depending on your comfort level and work up to 25 to 30 minutes. Walk as quickly as you can but try to observe and enjoy the natural setting. This will help to boost your endorphins and make it enjoyable and a lifelong pleasure. Working out with free weights alternating upper and lower body workouts every day is important to keep muscles toned which will help burn calories.

Give Jazzercise a try to see if you feel comfortable there. It's usually all women and they are very welcoming. Jazzercise is a great way to workout. They have a reasonable monthly fee and you can go to as many classes as they offer. It's great exercise if you enjoy dancing and alot of fun and you'll meet great people. You'll have an aerobic workout as well as weights and body shaping and stretching. I highly recommend it.

Good luck to you and hope this helps.


Helpful Ideas for cooking
by: Larrisa

Hi, This is a very good question. I used to have the same trouble as you but I finally figured it out after about a year. The easiest way to get away from the cooking is using a microwave. You can buy Weight Watchers meals. They have very good meals with all kinds of different foods. They also have desserts like chocolate cake and pies. What I would do is buy a weeks worth of Weight Watchers meals and see how you like them. This is an easy way to control your calorie intake too. You can buy these meals at most supermarkets. Good luck with your diet!

Larrisa from Illinois

Cooking change perception from I Can't to I Can
by: Mohit Salviya

Hi Allie,

You know the difference between to be and not to be is just the presence of mind and perception. The first and the foremost thing you need to change is your attitude towards cooking, just think that you like it very much, and slowly and gradually it'll automatically come in your habit to cook your meals.

As we all know that every count begins with #1 so start with the basic things, then move gradually up to a little harder ones. Once you are perfect in easy and small things automatically you'll get the way ahead.

And to loose the weight the best answer can be none other that doing your own work for each and everything. In the starting it'll seem you too much tiring and boring as well but the best exercise is the housekeeping.

Overall once you'll start cooking it'll seem very easy to you for the next time.

Mohit Salviya

Help for the non cook
by: Viva

I call myself a horrible or non cook too, but the fact is that you and I can easily cook. Even if it's just chicken and shrimp in some olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and soy sauce, it's cooking. You can also get one of Martha Stewart's recipe books and follow some of the easier directions in there. Or get The Perricone Promise for plenty of meal suggestions which will help you to lose weight quickly by increasing protein and decreasing carbs and sugars.
For exercise, try some yoga or Pilates at home. Get a book from the library and follow it until you memorize the moves and do not need the book anymore.

Salads are easy
by: Ginny

If you are the horrible cook you say you are, then don't cook!

Try making salads that don't require cooking. Not only are they healthy for you, but they can be low enough in calories to help you lose weight.

Supermarkets have a huge selection of greens, already washed and prepared for eating, from which you can choose. To these ready-to-eat greens you can add many things each day, for instance, tuna in water, (drained of course), or raw carrots, zucchini, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, etc.

You can buy cooked chicken, remove the skin, cut it up and add that.

There are fat-free dressings that are very tasty, like a bleu cheese from Walden Farms with zero calories, or light dressings like Paul Newman's Light Balsamic Vinaigrette.

If you desire a hot meal for a change, I have found Smart Ones by Weight Watchers to be the best and healthiest frozen food entrees. They are satisfying and tasty.

Healthy solutions for non-cook
by: lghkmh

If you can't cook or don't have time, there are some super quick meals that will be healthy and won't break the bank. One great lunch is a half cup of cottage cheese, a quarter cup of tuna and a few tomato wedges on top. If you need dressing, just a splash of balsamic vinegar. Has calcium, protein, vitamin c and antioxidents. I do this a lot after a morning workout. For breakfast, some light granola cereal with some splenda-sweetened yogurt on top is really satisfying and has calcium, protein & loads of fiber. And water, water, water. This is the hard part for me...remembering to drink enough water throughout the day. Good luck!

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