Flavorful Cooking for Mental Health
While cooking can be a daunting task for some, others view it as a sensory experience and find much comfort in the repetition of slicing ingredients, the rhythmic bubbling of broth, and the delicious smell of baking bread or simmering sauce. Creating a delicious and healthy homemade meal is comforting for many, and is also sometimes used as form of therapy. Therapeutic cooking, culinary therapy, and culinary mindfulness – join us at Advanced Biotech as we take a look and the ways cooking at home can positively impact mental health.
Many studies have shown that being creative can have a positive effect on mental health. Engaging in creative activities like art, music, and cooking can act as an emotional outlet, allowing for self-expression as well as a sense of accomplishment. Cooking at home presents the opportunity to experiment with new ingredients, flavors, ands scents and discover the role each plays in a dish. Swapping ingredients in a recipe like substituting honey, maple syrup, or agave in place or traditional sugar is a great way to experience new flavors. Using new herbs such as fenugreek, sage, or turmeric is another way to incorporate new layers of flavor and enhance the creativity of any basic recipe.
Cooking for others can be a rewarding experience that helps to build self-esteem while also making connections with friends and family. It is often said that food is the great unifier, and taking an active role in the kitchen can create a sense of community and improve communication. Hosting a dinner party for friends, family, and neighbors is a great way to improve interpersonal communication and mitigate feelings of isolation while also improving upon personal skills. Cooking traditional dishes is also simple and delicious way to experience other cultures or connect with one’s own. Protein-packed chicken enchiladas flavored with smoky chipotle are a small window into Mexican culture, while dumplings packed with aromatics like ginger, scallions, and sesame provide a peek into Asian culture. Feeling connected with those around us and around the world can be achieved through cooking.
Planning, preparing, and cooking meals at home using fresh and flavor ingredients is a simple way to achieve health goals. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 95% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and appetite, mediates mood, and inhibits pain — is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and studies have found a connection between gut health and mental health. Cooking at home can also have a positive impact on one’s relationship with food, as it was shown in a study conducted by the American Dietic Association that children whose parents invite them to cook with them tend to have a better relationship with food. Teaching oneself how to cook can not only lead to improved confidence and empowerment when it comes to health, nutrition, and independence.
While simply cooking is no substitute for professional help, it can certainly help to foster a positive mood and improve overall mental health. Confidence, connection, and health can all be achieved by cooking at home a few times a night with friends, family, and fresh ingredients inspired by nature.