How The Show 'Chopped' Got Me Through My Divorce (And Gave Me A Life Again)

There are lessons to be learned from everything.

Last updated on Jun 01, 2024

TV Show "Chopped" Taught Me About Being Happy After Divorce Dawn Hoffmann |, simarik | Canva

I’ll be honest. I didn’t start watching the TV show Chopped to learn anything. In fact, I only started watching it during my divorce. Everyone has their own "numbing" strategies for giving themselves an emotional break. There’s even a joke in the divorce support world about how you hit the bottle really hard during the first 6 weeks of a divorce before you can pull yourself out of it. Not me. I hit the couch. Pretty hard. And for longer than 6 weeks. Chopped became my go-to show for turning off my mind for at least an hour. Eventually, though, I actually started watching it and realized that there are some pretty basic things that make some contestants more successful than others.


These things were easy. Even I could do these in my divorce! Why not? Doesn’t divorce feel like a competition sometimes? Think about it. Just like the Chopped contestants, we walk into a divorce without a clue about our options, the process, or what’s going to be thrown at us. We have to do our best under pressure with the eyes of our world upon us. Ultimately, we're judged. While we wouldn’t be winning money by being time-efficient, we would most certainly be saving money by being more aware of the clock and our attorney’s billable hours. Unfortunately, while there are no real winners in a divorce, there is a way for you to come out on top feeling good about how you managed the process and yourself. It’s not a competition, but it is a challenge — one that you can use, if you want, to move forward and grow. So, here are the top lessons I learned from Chopped that helped me and made me happy after the divorce. Maybe, they’ll help you too!


How the show Chopped got me through my divorce, and gave me a life again:

1. Know that you want.

It seems like a no-brainer that Chopped contestants would be better off having a real concept for their dish before they start cooking. But most of them don’t. They start with one ingredient and then try to find a way to work in the other three as they go. I get it. They’re flustered by the limited time and working under intense pressure. Unfortunately, they’re the ones who end up getting surprised by the clock and throwing food on their plates at the last minute. What a mess!

Well, it’s the same thing in a divorce. You need to know what you want, now and after the divorce so that you can manage your time better and focus your resources on getting what you want. That detailed vision, goal, or concept will give you positive momentum and drive you to make better decisions. Clarity will help you own your time and your life so that you aren’t surprised in the end. Otherwise, your divorce could turn into a long, expensive mess.

RELATED: 7 Painfully Honest Reasons You Feel 'Stuck' After Your Divorce

2. Don't overthink.

While you need to have a clear concept of your dish on Chopped, it doesn’t pay to overthink or forget what is realistic to accomplish. When Chopped contestants get too ambitious, they're forgetting their end goal is to win. Winning requires transforming the basket ingredients and getting them all on the plate within the allotted time. So, they need to do what they can do within those parameters. Trying to do extra will likely end up working against them. Divorce is no different. There are parameters, precedents, and guidelines that define the divorce process. So, you need to be realistic about what you want and never forget that your goal is to get divorced. If you insist on unrealistic goals, however, you will be making your divorce longer and more expensive than it needs to be — and you probably still won’t get what you want. In the end, trying to get extra will probably work against you.

@divorce360plus 5 importants things to do when you start the divorce process! If you have any questions feel free to comment or give me a call for a free consultation. #certifieddivorcefinancialanalyst #loanofficer #divorce #divorcecoach #divorceadvice #lifeafterdivorce #certifieddivorcelendingprofessional #divorcetok #financialliteracy #finance101 ♬ original sound - Angela Deaton - CDFA®️/ CDLP

RELATED: 8 Simple Ways To Stop Hating Your Life After Divorce

3. Get creative.

In Chopped, there's always a way to make the mystery basket ingredients work — even the worst things that I never knew about before and hope never to come across, like durian. Ugh! Who knew anything like this existed? Anyway, contestants need to not only work with the 4 mystery basket ingredients, they need to transform them. It seems like a tall order, but the best contestants are the ones who can see past the actual ingredient, understand its flavor profile, and use it in completely surprising ways. The lesson here is that everything is not always as it seems. In a divorce, you have to dig deeper and really understand the issues and all of your various options. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to get creative. Judges would rather see you find a creative solution that works for you and your family in an agreement than see you in court.

RELATED: 7 Little Things That Stopped Me From Moving On After My Divorce


4. Season your food.

If I had a dollar for every time a Chopped judge (yes, you Marc Murphy) critiqued a dish for lack of salt, I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d finally be debt-free. Even with what appears to be contrasting flavors, the most successful chefs are able to create a balance of salty, sweet, spicy, and acidic in their dishes. They are able to find harmony even in the midst of chaos. Too often, though, contestants forget the basics in the rush to get everything on the plate. You need to taste your food! You need to make sure it’s seasoned! There has to be balance!

So just like in Chopped, you need to make sure that you find harmony and balance in your life. There is a whole lot more in your life than just this divorce. While my time on the couch felt like a time-out, it really wasn’t. Life was still going on, still happening. I just wasn’t participating. If you think of time as money, I wasted just as much money on that couch as I did on my attorney. You only get one life. It’s precious. Find balance. Make sure you are living it even during this challenging time. Live it. Taste it. Enjoy it.

Life was still going on, still happening. I just wasn’t participating. If you think of time as money, I wasted just as much money on that couch as I did on my attorney. You only get one life. It’s precious. Find balance. Make sure you are living it even during this challenging time. Live it. Taste it. Enjoy it. Who knew Chopped had so many lessons for us? Use these and you'll become a champion in your divorce and your life. If you ever get stuck, shift your perspective by looking at life through the Chopped lens.

@mindfullyready Life after divorce can be your best life yet if you’re getting the right support & taking the time to heal 🦋 #divorce #divorcetok #divorcetiktok ♬ original sound - Coach Leah Marie

Think of your life as the perfect meal. You’re the chef. You can create anything you want. You're in charge of choosing the ingredients you want to use and how you want to put them together. It’s your vision that makes the meal what you want it to be. But it’s your experiences that give you the skill to execute it in the way that you want. It’s all in your hands. There is unlimited possibility. Add some zest. Make it pretty. If you don’t know what to do with something, make it into a sauce!


RELATED: Knowing This One Thing Helped Me Recover Faster From My Divorce

Laura Miolla is the founder and CEO of Smart Divorce Strategy, is a Professional Certified Coach (CPCC and PCC), Mediator and Parentology Coach. She's a contributor to Thought Catalog, Medium, Huffington Post, Babble, Parents Magazine, among many others.