Mental Health

Cooking Therapy Benefits That Will Surprise You

As most people are stuck at home making their own meals, they could be unconsciously experiencing the therapeutic effects of cooking. The activity provides relief from stress, anxiety and depression, among other mental health conditions on the rise during the pandemic. 

It is also recommended by therapists as a legitimate relaxing pursuit to cope with mental distress, according to Draxe.com. Sometimes, cooking is even incorporated into treatment programs, with individuals encouraged to practice cooking on their own to focus on something positive.

Cooking helps people develop a new hobby that is both stimulating and fun, while expanding their skillset at the same time. Following different recipes and experimenting with different cuisines could make the day more interesting than usual, livening up routine life.

Here are few health benefits provided by cooking therapy:

Nourishes the mind

While cooking for yourself, it is easier to use ingredients that are good for brain health. You do not need to count on others because it is in your control. Amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium are some of the essential nutrients that can nourish the mind, according to Psychology Today.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, fish, nuts and seeds could protect the brain from cognitive decline and dementia. As a bonus, these foods bring down oxidative stress, lower inflammation, improve blood sugar and lower chances of developing metabolic syndrome. This makes cooking a win-win strategy to improve both physical and mental health. 

Helps people bond

Cooking together with family members can help each other bond, as it requires both communication and cooperation to get food out to the table on time. It also helps people learn conflict management as they might have to compromise on taste.  

Mindfulness

Cooking involves being present in the moment, slicing pieces, smelling the food and observing the color of the ingredients cooked. This way you are not overthinking about the past and excessively contemplating the future. The activity distracts you from your problems and helps you accomplish a small task, therefore encouraging you to be proactive. 

Physical Activity

Cooking requires a lot of physical activity for cutting, stirring and adding ingredients. Although it is not comparable to a regular workout, it definitely helps you get out of a sedentary lifestyle, while also making healthy food choices. Cooking therapy also provides mental stimulation for the elderly, disabled and mentally distressed. It gives them a sense of independence and ownership over their food intake. 

Cooking Pasta Cooking helps you stay present in the moment. Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

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