How healthy cooking for the family keeps your brain healthy
Perhaps everyone knows how important food is for maintaining physical health. What you eat and how you eat—both have huge implications on your overall physical and mental well-being. But the correlation between food and your health doesn’t end here. The seemingly simple act of preparing meals brings several benefits your way. Culinary artistic therapy, or CAT, combines emotional well-being with the very practical human need of eating. Today, this therapy is used as an integral part of treatment for a diverse range of mental, as well as behavioral, health conditions such as anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Here’s an overview of how cooking for family can be beneficial.
Acts as a behavioral activation therapy
Healthy cooking for the family encourages goal-oriented behavior and positive activity, which helps the individual focus on the task at hand, break the shackles of passivity, and reduce procrastination. While some may see this as an enjoying activity, some others may feel a sense of accomplishment, having rustled something delicious that their family would love to eat. Both these feelings bring an inherent joy and sense of purpose, which can help individuals with mental health disorders including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
An effective destressor
Cooking for your family isn’t just about slicing, dicing, and dunking all the ingredients into a pan. It’s a creative activity that engages all your senses to offer you a sensory experience with touch, vision, aroma, taste, and even sound (think about the kettle making that sizzling sound or the hissing sound of your pressure cooker). While stress has a numbing effect on your senses, cooking helps you destress by activating them.
Living in the presence—with mindfulness
While cooking healthy meals for family, you should practice mindfulness. When you are cutting or dicing vegetables, focus closely on the skins you are peeling, feel the hardness or softness of each ingredient, notice how they smell, and then observe their transformation as the process is in progress. Staying focused on every moment and enjoying the smaller steps would not leave you with the time to worry about the past or future or even ruminate on a topic unnecessarily. Rather, you would feel happy, less stressed, and full of a newfound vigor for life.
Cooking for family is a creative pursuit where you often have to be creative to rustle up healthy and tasty recipes with whatever you have on hand rather than buy a long list of ingredients to cook five-course meals laid out in colorful cookbooks. Thus, not only will you have created your own recipe by putting on your creative hat but can even feel a sense of accomplishment, which would be a great self-esteem booster.
How often do you cook for family? Do you love it, or do you detest it? Post your views in the comments section below. You can also connect with me through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads to make the conversation flow.
Andrews–Wasmer, Linda. 2015. “Kitchen Therapy: Cooking Up Mental Well-Being.” Psychology Today, February 19. Accessed December 18, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201505/kitchen-therapy-cooking-mental-well-being.
Curiosity Staff. 2017. “Cooking Can Improve Your Mental Health.” Curiosity, April 12. Accessed December 18, 2017. https://curiosity.com/topics/cooking-can-improve-your-mental-health-curiosity/.