Cooking And Mental Health
"We are what we eat' - or so the saying goes. From calorie-inducing meals to low-fat lunches, much of our health depends on what we eat. We know about the benefits of eating properly for our physical wellbeing, but food - and cooking it is proving to be good for our mental wellbeing as well.
Some people are now advocating the therapeutic value of cooking food. It's not just about the end result but the experience someone goes through. Dr Mark Salter, a consultant psychiatrist, told the BBC: "Baking and cooking are good occupational therapies that help patients develop planning skills, short-term memory and social skills- all of which suffer in mental illness.
"TV chef and author Nadiya Hussain agrees that cooking is great for helping our mind. She loves to bake and became the champion of the TV show, The Great British Bake Off. She says that "Baking's always been about therapy... It's never really been about the cake." And she thinks that baking is an important tool for our socialisation and mental health.
Certainly, creating some delicious food has helped some of us get through the recent lockdown; it's helped take our mind off things and given us something to do. People have said that kneading dough to make bread, for example, has given them a sense of calm and control. Research has shown that doing creative tasks, like cooking, makes us feel happier. Nicole Farmer, who studies how food impacts our biology, behaviour and mental health, told BBC online that "cooking represents the shared human experience of food, and nurturing people through food, so I think that's where it incorporates opportunity for immediate positive emotions.
"Of course, cooking can be a very sociable activity and sharing the end result, a rewarding experience. Hopefully, as we start to mix with friends and family again, we can enjoy the benefits once more and put us all in the right frame of mind.