Trigger Warning: Individuals with eating disorders might find this article triggering. Please read only on your own will.
Do you remember your childhood days, where you were comfortably lying on your sofa after coming back from a long day at school? Do you remember how the mouth-watering aroma of a tasty delicacy distracted you from the television show you were watching? You had asked your mother back then to make your favorite food item, which she did, out of love!
There has been plenty of research on the psychological and emotional benefits of cooking. Let’s visit some of them below:
Boosts Cognitive health:
A Mumbai-based nutritionist Neha Sahaya, believes that Indian diet i.e. green vegetables like spinach, prebiotic items like garlic, dahi, idlis, etc. and grains like wheat improve brain health. The brain is the organ that is responsible for the functioning of our entire body and uses most of our energy. Hence, when we cook meals for ourselves, we are eventually regulating our cognitive health!
Apart from this, the process of cooking increases our focus by making us mindful. Indian spices go a long way in regulating serotonin, a hormone in our brain, which is associated with better moods.
The Wall Street Journal mentions that cooking and baking can be so therapeutic, that it's used as a therapy technique called ‘Behavioral activation’. It promotes goal-oriented behavior and calls for action, killing procrastination. As we need to feed ourselves everyday, we are nudged to carry out cooking for ourselves irrespective of the gender. When we do so and reach the end results, we get a feeling of accomplishment which may motivate us next time to get out of our beds and avoid procrastinating on tasks.
Fights mental health issues:
John Whaite, a renowned baker, once said in an interview with BBC, “When I’m in the kitchen, measuring the amount of sugar, flour or butter I need for a recipe or cracking the exact number of eggs- I am in control. That’s really important as a key element of my condition is a feeling of no control.” Whaite was diagnosed with manic depression then and baking helped him through it.
In fact, did you know that there is a special field in mental health called “Culinary therapy” that focusses on helping with mental health disorders like ADHD, anxiety, people with special needs etc. It also boosts self esteem.
Builds Social Connection:
One of the most beautiful things about this is that it promotes social interaction and forms warmer relations. This can be done by sharing the food you made pouring in all your love, with your close ones or even partnering the cooking process with your close ones!
People who deal with a Bipolar disorder find it triggering when there is a shift in daily routines, causing manic or depressive episodes. A psychotherapy known as Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) aims in establishing schedules for these people on times of going to bed, eating, waking up and so on. Therefore, cooking can become a pillar in one’s everyday routine leading to greater mental wellness.
Food writer, Kanner advises to learn to enjoy the process of cooking and to build “your own new recipe”. She asks to “think of the flavors you gravitate toward and try to use them in different dishes.” This indeed boosts creativity!
Mental wellness and cooking certainly go hand in hand for most of us when practiced correctly. In a nutshell, it can be well summarized by quoting Thich Nhat Hanh- “When you prepare a meal with artful awareness, it’s delicious and healthy.”
Is cooking your mental wellness booster? Let us know!
By Ms. Vidhi Chanpura Ms. Vidhi is our Social Media Marketing & Mental Health Advocacy intern. Psychology & human behavior started appealing me in my high school years when I wanted to find answers to why people behaved the way they did. Emotions fascinated me. Moreover, becoming a Psychology graduate deepen her interest in the subject. She aspire to become an impactful Psychologist who spreads awareness about mental health and bring positive changes at grassroot levels.
Heyl, J.C (2022). Mental Health Benefits of Cooking Your Own Meals. Referred from https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-health-benefits-of-cooking-your-own-food-5248624
Romanoff, Z. (2021). I Hired a Cooking Therapist To Deal With My Anxiety. Referred from https://www.bonappetit.com/story/cooking-therapy
Andrews, L.W (2015). Kitchen Therapy: Cooking Up Mental Well Being. Referred from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201505/kitchen-therapy-cooking-mental-well-being
Locker, M. (2022). The Emotional Benefits of Cooking. Referred from https://www.southernliving.com/healthy-living/mind-body/cooking-therapy-mental-health
Gupta, S. G (2021). Here is the link between food, mood and your mental health. Referred from