Mental Health Benefits of Cooking
Most people recognize that dining out less frequently and eating fewer processed foods is good for your physical health (as well as your wallet). Cooking at home allows you to fully control your ingredients, so you can create healthy meals that will help with everything from weight management to specific dietary restrictions.
But, there are also several ways Mental Health Benefits of Cooking.
The act of cooking itself is a great way to reduce stress and enjoy a new hobby. But, that’s just the beginning. From eating the meals you create to sharing your passion with people you love, there are more mental benefits to cooking than you might realize. Let’s look at a few of them, so you can feel more empowered and excited the next time you start to whip something up in the kitchen.
Cooking to Boost Your Brain Health
Just as cooking with healthy ingredients can improve your physical well-being, it can boost your mental health, too. If you look at food as fuel for your body, the brain should be considered the engine that makes everything else function properly. Fueling it the right way is crucial.
Nowadays, there is a lot of misinformation available when it comes to health and wellness. You might feel like you’re being told to eat a certain food one minute, then avoid it the next. That’s advertising at its “finest,” and it’s a major problem that could be doing serious harm to public health.
So, instead of trying to follow fads or cut certain foods out entirely, focus on cooking meals with ingredients that are widely known for boosting brain health. Some of the best forms of “brain fuel” include
- Fatty fish
As you can see, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. You might already eat most of these things regularly, and most are just as beneficial to your physical health.
Eating for brain health can help to improve your focus and concentration, boost your memory, and give you more mental energy and clarity. You can also create fully customized meals to fit your needs and personal tastes while using ingredients that will make a big difference in your mental fitness.
Fighting Back Against Mental Health Conditions
You’ve likely heard the saying “you are what you eat.”
That’s especially true when it comes to your mental health.
While eating certain foods won’t usually cause conditions like anxiety or depression, it can make your symptoms worse. Highly processed foods, for example, can lead to inflammation in the brain that often contributes to mood disorders. So, while the term “comfort food” usually refers to something fatty, pre-packaged, and high in sugar, that kind of eating won’t make you feel better about anything for long.
- It helps to establish routine
- It’s a natural stress reducer
- You’ll feel more in control
- It improves self-esteem
- You’ll gain a sense of accomplishment
Cooking also allows you to follow specific dietary needs. Putting together meals that are high in lean protein, for instance, can naturally boost testosterone in men and women. The natural decline of testosterone production over time can lead to depression, increased irritability, and reduced motivation and concentration. The more you learn about the best nutrition plans for your mental health, the easier it will be to cook exactly what you need for yourself – and others.
A Sense of Community
Speaking of others – that’s what cooking is all about.
Cooking and community go hand-in-hand. There’s nothing better than cooking something from the heart for people you love.
But, it’s more than just a feel-good experience. There’s actual science behind the community of cooking, and how it benefits your mental well-being.
First, cooking for others can give you a greater sense of self-confidence and boost your esteem. Cooking with others is a fantastic way to improve your connection with someone, allowing for more vulnerability and conversation.
Finally, it allows you to be creative. Trying different dishes in the kitchen allows you to flex your mental muscle and use your imagination. You can learn from others, or join a community (online or in-person) of like-minded individuals who all find solace and comfort from being in the kitchen. Having that sense of community will help you to combat loneliness and isolation, which have become bigger threats than ever over the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you already love being in the kitchen or you’re new to the world of cooking, strive to spend more time doing it. Your mind and body will both benefit, and you might discover you’re more passionate about cooking than you ever realized before.
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