It’s no secret that cooking healthy food provides benefits to our bodies, but that’s not enough to make us do it. Good thing there’s now also evidence that the act of preparing meals can benefit our minds as well. OK, you got us.
How can cooking help improve our mental state? Mental health experts credit cooking with helping to relieve depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other conditions that can suck the life out of us. As various forms of meditation have become common ways to relax in our busy world, cooking is joining that genre—or at least so say health professionals, working adults and people who cook for a living.
Cooking at its core is comprehensive meditation with the assurance of a good, healthy meal as the reward. In fact, it can actually lift you to a meditative place you often don’t get in the outside world. It starts with the environment you create in your kitchen. Consider filling yours with music, for a start. Combining cooking with music provides the optimal environment to experience the many benefits of meditation.
However you cook, you want to do it with real peace and genuine happiness for yourself in mind. You’re giving to others all day long; now it’s time to get into the kitchen and give something wonderful to yourself.
Here are five mental health benefits that cooking brings.
5 Ways Cooking Benefits Your Mental State—Big Time
1. Cooking relieves stress.
Cooking can clear the head and relax the body. Think about it. Kitchen tasks such as chopping and stirring make the act of cooking meditative. You are present in the task, doing something physical, and not distracted by the stresses of the day. That’s a nourishing, centering action that gets you to slow down, mind, body and soul.
2. Cooking gives joy.
It’s easy to dismiss making meals as just another household chore, but you may derive joy from cooking that you don’t get from mundane tasks. Cooking is an innately rewarding experience. You can enhance it however you like. Use music as your seasoning by choosing whichever genre puts you in a zone when you get down to the business of cooking. When you’re enjoying working in the kitchen and listening to your favourite songs, all of a sudden you’re not just cooking. It’s like you’re flying with your feet on the ground. Cooking has all the ingredients of good vibrations.
3. Cooking boosts brain health.
The clearest link between cooking and mental health is good nutrition; numerous studies have found compounds like antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals found naturally in food can help protect your brain. Plus, it’s easier to control the quality of your diet when you prepare much of the food yourself.
4. Cooking makes you more creative.
Part of the fun of cooking is thinking outside the box. It should be considered an art, and with new ingredients, you can explore new areas of cooking and surprise your family with a meal that they will have never seen coming. Perfect recipes, come up with new ones, and let your creative juices flow.
5. Cooking builds self-confidence.
You feel a strong sense of accomplishment when you’ve prepared something satisfying. When you’ve fixed a nice meal for several people that confidence will surge, and it can spread into other areas of your life. It will inspire you to try new things.
Chef Zipora Einav is an accomplished private chef and the author of Recipe for a Delicious Life. She founded her company, Chef Zipora Enterprise – Comfort Food in Harmony with Your Health ™ to improve people’s lives by empowering them to eat well and embrace a healthy lifestyle.