Home Health & Wellbeing
Take part in our next Watch Club on 2nd Feb at 7.30pm. We'll be talking about the film In the Heights! Sign up to take part and receive your free NOW pass!
Come and join our Support Circle, every Tuesday, 8 - 9:30pm! Anyone is welcome to join. Sign up here

Fear/trauma of cooking

JawfaceJawface Posts: 23 Boards Initiate
I'm 23 years old and neurodivergent. I recently moved out of my parents' house. I have a job which I usually don't find very stressful. I generally don't worry about other things going wrong too much.

But it's totally different when it comes to cooking. For dinner I always eat things I know how to cook (which beyond putting things in the microwave is about 3 dishes), or eat out. I know that I can't keep doing this forever, but I can't bring myself to try cooking anything new. Now, I don't think I can cook anything at all when I know other people are going to eat it.

When I was about 16, I used to look after my neighbour's kids twice a week. She expected me to know how to cook for them, even though I'd never been taught how to cook, and being a neurodivergent 16 year old I couldn't follow instructions for how to cook things that I didn't already know how to cook (so basically every night I was there it was pasta or pizza for them). It was really stressful for me; I had no guidance of how to do anything, just an expectation to cook something other than pasta or pizza (which I couldn't). As a result of that, I became more anxious about getting things wrong when cooking.

My girlfriend tried to teach me how to cook recently. She's a very highly strung person (which she would admit to I think). She was taught to do things by her parents in a very strict way, she was shouted at or insulted if she didn't understand things. She came to the conclusion that this is normal, and when she tried to teach me to cook, she took the same approach that her parents did with her.

This is obviously a doomed combination, a person who's very impatient when people get things wrong, and a person who doesn't easily understand instructions and who easily gets anxious when they get things wrong. And so it was; it didn't last long, and she eventually decided to cook for me whenever I'm with her, subject to me cleaning the dishes and kitchen afterwards (which I can do).

But now I don't know how to get better at cooking. I'm too anxious for people I know to taste my cooking. I hate it when people expect me to know how to cook. Even when I cook something just for myself, I get anxious about it going wrong.

It's weird though, I don't really care about things going wrong elsewhere in my life - I locked myself out of my flat accidentally last weekend, and I totally screwed up a piece of work I did today, but I don't feel too bothered by those things. I think it's related to trauma from past experiences of being expected to know how to cook, but I don't know what to do now.


  • Millie2787Millie2787 🐶 💜 Posts: 4,437 The Mix Elder
    Hey :)

    I’m also neuro diverse too and since moving to uni I must admit it does scare me to cook as the oven and microwaves are different to what I had at home.

    Maybe it might be worth finding out if there’s any life skills type courses near you at a local college as they usually include cooking as an element or even trying a Level 1 cooking course just so you’ve got the basics ?

    I Wonder if you could start with just making some simple things that involve the oven and take very little time to cook - These are some ideas that are really simple and not complicated as I feel you with having to follow long complicated recipes and if I’m honest I always end up cooking things on 180c (Gas mark 4)

    Wrap Pizzas
    1.You simply spread some tomatoe purée (The one in a tube) onto a wrap
    2 add your toppings
    3.pop it in the oven for roughly 4 minutes

    Cheese on toast
    1.Put some bread under the grill , 2/3 minutes on each side just to toast it or you can have a toaster if you have one
    2. Put some cheese on one side and put it back under the grill to melt

    Maybe you could also try cooking some of the microwave meals in the oven to get you used to using the oven ❤️
    Sometimes all you need is one person to believe in you , for you to begin to believe in yourself.
  • Ed_Ed_ Posts: 821 Super Moderator
    Can totally appreciate the stress of trying to do anything when you haven't been shown, regardless of what it is, but also given how sociable food can be, I can hear the added stress you are experiencing. Millie gave some great ideas for recipes or equally ways of building up skills through a course. It may also be worth looking if there are community groups in your area that you can volunteer in, as often there are people there that can take the lead in the actual cooking, but that you can help them and perhaps over time may feel more confident in knowing how to do certain tasks. One charity that does this quite well is FoodCycle. Not sure if there will be one local to you, however this is the kind of volunteer role that they offer. I am sure if not FoodCycle, there will be a community kitchen locally.

    Do you have some friends that may be a bit more patient than your girlfriend? It sounds like you think that approach could be helpful if the person you were cooking with perhaps could take things at a bit of a calmer pace?

    Finally, on the taste front, perhaps you could start off with some close friends who you trust not to make a big deal out of it if it doesn't go to plan. What I would say is that part of the fun of food is trying new things and so remind yourself that it is okay if it doesn't quite turn out the way you wanted, it is all a learning experience and some of the funniest memories I have of food is when things have gone wrong. Most people when learning to cook will have a moment when they did something that turned out badly, so you definitely won't be alone in this.
    "Don't let them paint you gray. They're gonna see you're somebody, somewhere, someday. Don't ever let them take your playful heart away. Oh you're somebody nobody could replicate" ~ Roo Panes
  • SirArchibaldSirArchibald Posts: 75 Budding Regular
    Hi, I am sorry you arent confidence with cooking it can be very overwhelming. I love to cook but i do find some part of cooking stressful like deep frying. I think the others have had some good suggestion, starting with easy dishes that don't require much effort or equipment. A fantastic resource for cooking is YouTube, there are some many youtubers that make cooking videos that show you how to cook so many things, and because its a video you can see what they do and copy it very easily. There will also be very helpful videos about things like knife skills and different cooking methods.
    I think trying too cook alone or with one close friend to support you would be good as it remove alot of pressure because there is less performance anxiety. That way you can take your time and not stress about people watching you, or trying to make the food good for someone.
    I think try finding a simple easy dishe that you like the look off, follow a YouTube tutorial for it or a recipe as these will give you very useful measurements and instructions, and keep doing that, slowly building you confidence and then you can branch out when you are ready
    The most important thing to remember is no one is born good at anything, everyone who is good at cooking was a beginner and made many many mistakes. Don't stress if you cant get everything right first time, no one is expecting you to be a master chef or anything, just take your time and be kind to yourself while cooking, if you mess up no one is going to die or be injured you might just set of the fire alarm ; ) ( I am constantly setting of my fire alarm =)
  • oliviac4oliviac4 Posts: 6 Confirmed not a robot
    I can understand how this must be quite overwhelming for you. I agree that perhaps starting to cook alone might be a good first step and getting yourself feeling confident with those dishes before trying to introduce cooking for others. Perhaps you could ask a close friend to demonstrate cooking something for you, or watching something online/ on TV so you can watch them do it rather than having to follow written instructions, if this is better for you. It's okay if it doesn't go 100% right, especially when trying to cook new things, there's always times you can try again whenever you feel comfortable!
  • Tigger2001Tigger2001 Posts: 14 Settling in
    edited December 2021

    I hope you are well.

    Fellow neurodivergent here too! Doing things first for the first time used to stress me out so badly. And not being able to things right in the first try was an even worse anxiety inducing thing.

    I think what helped me was to manage my expectations. I learnt this from what my man was told by his therapist when my man goes fishing.

    Due to his bpd, he used to get really frustrated if he didn't catch a big fish but he was fishing in a local river where you could not get the size of fish he was wanting.

    This therapist said try to managee his expectations to realistic standard but in a positive way.
    From "I want to catch a big fish" to "I want to catch a fish"

    This has helped me too.
    When cooking I have tried to say to myself: I want to try to cook this and it will not be perfect. But it will be something - I have made something.

    This has really helped me appreciate the process of cooking and to not put pressure on the outcome. And cooking is meant to be fun and experimental. I have tried mixing things that have turned out to taste horrible but at least now I know! Hahaha.

    I hope you feel better about cooking in time and hopefully you won't put so much pressure on yourself.

    If you find it difficult following instructions, find things you can make that means you can do what you want to it. Like pizza - buy some dough if making it is too much right now and try different things on it. Use different spices, cheeses. Or something odd like banana or grapes. It's your pizza! There are no rules. And if you try it and it turns out awful, that's okay!

    I remember the first time I tried making cheese sauce. I do not know how I did it to this day, but I ended up with this thick slime that just turned into something like playdough which was a nightmare to clean but hey, it was an experience and I made something. I don't know what, but it was something. And that is better than nothing at all.

    Cooking is meant to go little chaotic sometimes and if you haven't burnt garlic bread until its completely black and like a rock a few times in your life, you're missing out! And sometimes it will go great and you will be have a lovely meal to enjoy.

    And the more mistakes you make, the more you learn. Failure is the foundation of success. Either way, whether it turns out for better or worse, you made something. Be proud of that something!

    Sending hugs and hope your day is going well. If you want to chat I'm always here. 🤗
  • gurpreetbgurpreetb Posts: 5 Confirmed not a robot
    Try cooking with friends , that way you can pick up on tips and tricks and it can help ease the pressure of cooking alone. Also, Tik tok belive it or not is a great place to learn simple dishes ( eg, feta pasta dish)
Sign In or Register to comment.