Culinary Therapy: You’re Not Just Cooking A Meal!
Cooking is alchemy. It’s one of the most fundamental ways that our outer world (what we can see, touch, and taste) communicates with our inner world (our physical body).
It makes sense to think of cooking as therapy because food has a lot of meaning culturally.
The emotional benefits of cooking are myriad, it’s a nourishing and centering act that also gets us to slow down and focus.
The very process of cooking is self-care at its most basic and in effect, can nourish our psychological well-being.
So much so that some health-care clinics and counsellors are now using cooking and baking as therapy tools to increase mental well-being in clients.
Of course, like exercise, just because cooking can be helpful for mental health doesn’t make it easier to acheive. That’s why home cooking workshops are so helpful.
Therapeutic Cooking Workshops
A Sprinkling of Creativity
Cooking workshops are great outlets for creative expression. Studies show that the sense of accomplishment a person feels when they’ve learnt how to create a tasty meal instills a sense of feeling more grounded, capable and can boost self–esteem.
Cooking workshops bring people together, there’s no question about this and having positive relationships with other people can make us feel connected.
The reward of eating together as a workshop group or taking your meal home to family and friends and the satisfaction of having cooked a healthy meal can create a rush of healthy well-being.
It’s a way to channel energy and can be used as a distraction, help build mastery in a skill, and a way to express emotions with others through a different medium.
A Dash of Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness with others in the kitchen is all about focusing on the peeling, the cutting, the pouring, and the stirring while creating something together. Focusing on the moment this way, you’re not ruminating over past slights or worrying about future problems. Cooking is a form of meditation with the promise of a good meal afterwards.
A Helping of Achievement & Reward
Cooking and baking present two different aspects for mental health: the activity and the result, and both have real benefits. The reason that therapeutic home cooking workshops work so well is because participants learn and get something tangible for their efforts, an activity that creates deep meaning. So cooking, which leads to eating has a powerful, built-in reward system.
A Heaped Spoonful of Altruism
Aside from the process of learning how to cook and the delicious end result, there’s another aspect of making food that’s beneficial to mental health: doing it for others. Altruistic cooking, research has shown, has a strong part in many cultures as a way to bond with others; you cook to show you care in a time of crisis, to celebrate, to entertain, or simply to nourish.
The act of sharing one’s creation of a home cooked meal can be really powerful. Positive feedback and just seeing someone else enjoy, appreciate and value your creation (the meal) has major implications for rebuilding one’s self worth and value.
Cooking Classes Could Help People Cope With Mental Health Problems
The Lancet News Article
Although the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology. Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality (and potential nutritional deficiencies) and mental health, and for the select use of nutrient-based supplements to address deficiencies, or as monotherapies or augmentation therapies.
Food Affects Mood!