By Zipora Einav
It’s no secret that cooking healthy food provides benefits to our bodies, but there’s also evidence that the act of preparing meals can benefit our minds as well. Mental health experts credit cooking with helping to relieve depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other conditions. As various forms of meditation have become in vogue as ways to relax in our busy world, cooking is joining that genre, according to 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. However you cook, do it with real peace and genuine happiness for yourself in mind. You’re giving to others; now give some of this to yourself.
Here are five mental health benefits that cooking brings.
Cooking can clear the head and relax the body. Family therapist Lisa Bahar told Psychology Today that a mindfulness on the moment—kitchen tasks such as chopping and stirring—makes the act of cooking meditative. You are present in the task, doing something physical, and not distracted by the stresses of the day. It’s a nourishing, centering act that gets you to slow down.
Provides better 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. It’s easier to control the quality of your diet when you prepare much of the food yourself.
It’s easy to dismiss cooking 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. Music happens to be the seasoning of my life. Classical puts me in a zone when I’m cooking. When you’re enjoying working in the kitchen and listening to your favorite music, 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.
Makes you more creative
Part of the fun of cooking is thinking outside the box. Cooking 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.
You feel a strong sense of accomplishment when you’ve prepared something satisfying. When you’ve prepared 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.
Cooking without a doubt nourishes your psychological well-being. At the end of a long workday, it soothes the soul and the mind.
Chef Zipora Einav (www.chefzipora.com) is an accomplished private chef. She is the author of Recipe for a Delicious Life, which includes recipes, a classical music CD titled Music for a Delicious Life, and her anecdotes and adventures while traveling the world as a private chef.