No Shame in Our Game

Posted By on May 31, 2016 |


"Even a change you're really excited about doesn't get any easier because somebody mad you feel bad about yourself."

Not everybody who comes to the Kitchen Library is looking to change, but we do see a lot of people who are looking to change some aspect of their eating or cooking habits. Some people are looking to be more adventurous in the kitchen, while others are working on more complete nutrition; some are hoping to save money by cooking at home more, and others are looking to make headway in a new or growing food-related business.

One of the comments I love to receive in my workshops is that I make people feel capable and positive about their ability to integrate a new skill, recipe, or goal into their lives. It’s incredibly important to me that the people who come to us looking to make a change in their lives walk away feeling that they have both the ability and the resources to do so.

I’m a big fan of Brené Brown, who says,

“We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.” 

That might seem a little intense coming from a blog that’s usually about baking and kitchen appliances, but this is important. So much of our lives and culture are tied up in the process of choosing, preparing, eating, and cleaning up after our meals that I really believe a lot of the hard work of building good lives and strong communities is done in kitchens.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I think all the work done in those kitchens needs to be cooking. I have a friend who said she’d like to save some of the money she and her partner spend on takeout, but that they both really despise cooking, and my response was that time spent doing something you hate is also expensive, and costs need to be balanced. That applies to a lot of things, but the point is this: changes don’t happen for most people because they feel bad about themselves. They happen because people feel powerful. Taking shame out of the equation makes room for that power.

So you’ll never hear me telling the mother of a six-month-old baby that the choices she’s made about her baby’s food in the past are wrong. I answer questions with information and reassurance. I don’t tell people who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen that there’s something wrong with them for not cooking for their families; instead, I trust that they’ve come looking for some resources to add to their toolkit so they might be able to get one or two good recipes under their belt to build on.

It’s also very important to my work with the Kitchen Library that we are approachable, inviting, and inclusive. To that end, I’ve drawn up a brief Community Assessment Survey to help us identify which parts of our communities we’re serving well and which areas we could be serving better. I’d be so appreciative if you’d fill it out, and you’d be helping us build a stronger organization that can reach and empower more people in the changes they’re trying to make.