In SELF’s new franchise, The Meal I Eat when I Feel …, we speak with chefs, celebrities, athletes and others in the culinary world about their favorite foods and how they help them feel better.
26-year-old Meredith Hayden is a chef and recipe developer. She can create unique menus for clients, whether preparing a seafood-themed meal for her family in the Hamptons or preparing lunch with her pink pasta to cater for a corporate event. She has over 800,000 TikTok users, who tune in to see what she’s cooking next.
After a long day of cooking for others, it can be difficult to think about what to make for her dinner.
Hayden, who blogs under the handle tells SELF that when I’m alone and exhausted from work, the last thing I want is to search for a recipe, make a list and go to the grocery shop. When you feel anxious or overstimulated, the last thing that you want to do is to leave your home and go to the grocery store.
1. Prepare for success.
This dish aims to provide a satisfying and delicious dinner using what you have at hand. Olive oil, butter and cherry tomatoes are the main ingredients. Parmesan cheese, garlic, Parmesan, and pasta are also common ingredients. Hayden says that you can also customize it if your needs change.
She says, “Sometimes I’ll throw onions or shallots in, chilis or red pepper flakes in there.” You can add fresh basil if you have it or some parsley.
You can add protein to make it a more substantial meal. You don’t have to force it. Sometimes, spaghetti is all you need.
Hayden states, “I’ll just take one bowl of [the spaghetti] and put it on my face.” “With a Diet Coke and that’s all.”
2. Maximize your enjoyment
This isn’t a dish you should limit to your dinner table. Hayden takes her bowl to her couch or bed and turns on some reality TV to make dinner a relaxing experience. Although she just started Love Island, Hayden is a long-time Real Housewives watcher, so sometimes it can help her relax.
She says, “I’ll go back to some Real Housewives of New York classics if it’s too anxious.”
3. Recharge and reflect.
Hayden claims that both the act of cooking and eating the meal can help ease anxiety. She says that once she is satisfied, it helps her to see her stressors through a different lens.
She says, “Sometimes, I’ll get cranky and hungry. Then I’ll have the noodles, and I’m like Okay, I feel better now.” It makes me feel safe and calm, reminds me of my love of cooking, and brings me back to reality. It’s almost like, “Calm down, it’s n.”