Cooking for Yourself in Retirement
Chances are that sometime between the age of 65 and 85, if you are half of a pair, you will become a single individual. Once a social time, mealtime can be a painful reminder of the lost companion. Where preparing a meal for two seemed natural, it may feel pointless to spend the energy to go through all the motions of preparing the food, setting the table, cooking, and cleaning up for one.
An important side effect when a newly single person bails on preparing and eating meals regularly is the disruption to intake of all of the necessary nutrients to sustain life.
If the newly single person was not accustomed to doing the cooking, he may feel lost and incompetent in the kitchen. The kitchen being unfamiliar territory, it may be easier to avoid it altogether. Conversely, if it is the cook who is now alone, she may feel unmotivated to prepare a meal with no one to appreciate her efforts.
The possible fallout with distancing oneself from the rhythm of regular meal preparation and consumption is that it can spawn eating habits based on grabbing food that is convenient, highly processed, loaded with all the bad stuff, but easy to get. Limited income can also have a negative impact on being able to eat a lot of fresh foods.
Emotional stress can lead to either eating too much, resulting in dangerous weight gain, or eating too little, depriving the body of vitamins, minerals, fluids, and other important nutrients. If you feel lonely or depressed, consult a therapist or a doctor for help.
Being single doesn't mean having to eat alone. You might have to get a bit creative about finding companionship at mealtime, but here are some ideas:
Check out places in your community where seniors gather that might have meal programs. Try congregations, YMCA, or senior centers nearby.
Join groups. Make new friends by taking classes or volunteering.
Set up dine-arounds to make meals fun again. Take turns hosting simple group meals; or have a regular meal out trying out new restaurants.
Organize potluck dinners with friends and acquaintances. Take turns hosting them, or find a church or synagogue hall where you can use a common kitchen.
Adult Day Care Centers offer companionship and meals for seniors who cannot do it themselves any longer.
Independent and assisted living facilities are structured for group meals. You don't need to move into one to get the benefit of lively conversation and healthy meals. Don't hesitate to raise the idea of putting an eating group together with other singles. If it is on your mind, it is surely on theirs as well.