Cooked food anxiety

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 20, 2013 at 5:19 AM

Hello all! I've been following this exchange for a while (learned how to gain weight, met my goal!), and this is my first question here:

I am not normally anxious about things, my natural state is that of general calmness. However, since two food poisoning episodes I have become very anxious over the food that I cook myself. I really want to get over this; my anxiety upon eating food I have cooked is so great it manifests itself physically. I have a lot of friends who do paleo and they don't seem to even care how they cook anything or what's in it or how clean they were in doing it. Furthermore they don't get sick! I want to be like that! but it's a tricky thing for me, given my past two failures I don't really know what are proper precautions that minimize risk of sickness.

I don't know what precautions I took exactly in the two cases I had poisoning issues. The first time I laughed it off as a freak incident, but after the second time I started thinking that anything I cook myself, unless I cook it to complete coal, will be diseased. I wash my hands before cooking anything, rinse off vegetables, etc.

It's becoming a huge frustration. Maybe those two incidents were both freak incidents? I want to feel confident about the food I'm eating and that it won't ruin 1-3 days of productivity.

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2 Answers


on March 20, 2013
at 05:47 AM


Let me start by saying, I know exactly how you are feeling. Even after years and years of food safety training, I still get sick every once and a while.

If we are spending our energy in providing ourselves with meals, we are taking risks 3 (or more) times a day if we are not properly educated. It would be rude of me to list off everything I know about food illness, because you have a perfectly capable search engine and have full capabilities of asking anything you like of the inter-universe-webs.

Something I will mention though: this is a great experience to have (getting sick from your cooking). Nothing can teach you better. Although we sometimes like to eat dirt, raw eggs, or kefir (yuck), we still need to realize the food we are buying can bring us a lot of agony.

Our safety can be affected by everything from the animal's diet, how it was slaughtered, how it was stored, who cut it, and what he/she was named. Veggies are no different. These are not ready-to-eat substances and need to be treated with care.

A couple pointers:

  • Organize raw meat according to outlined cooking temperature.
  • Discard and clean anything that touched raw meat immediately after using
  • Keep hands away from face while cooking
  • Refrain from using cell phone/ipod with chicken hands (sounds crazy but i KNOW you all have done it)

To paint a nice fridge stack picture for ya:





The reason is: Chicken with a safe temp of 165 can contaminate Beef with a safe temp of 145. Because you aren't cooking beef to 165, there can be harmful bacteria that has not reached a safe temperature.

Make sense?

Organization and preparation.. Wash your veggies, don't mix your meats, and live to fight another day.

I've obviously missed LOADS of things your problem could relate to, but I thought you would enjoy a slice of a humble Butcher's pie.




on March 20, 2013
at 05:55 AM

I've had food poisoning a few times. It's a harrowing experience and I can understand it leaving you uneasy! The solution is probably learning, practice, and gaining confidence in your cooking skills. We may be able to offer better advice if you tell us what you cooked and why you think it made you sick.

You could also try starting with types of meat that are less likely to harbor pathogens. My understanding is that freshly butchered, ethically-raised beef and pork are on the safe side, but chicken and other fowl are more likely to be dangerous no matter how cleanly they were raised.

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