Cooking is Therapeutic… Yummy!

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

Do you like and know how to cook, or are you one of those who only looks at the kitchen when you pass it by? Beyond the daily and natural activity of preparing food for sustenance, cooking benefits us physically and mentally.

According to Julie Ohana, founder of Culinary Art Therapy, “Cooking at home, or other places are good for your mental health because cooking is an act of patience, mindfulness and an outlet for creative expression, a means of communication, and helps to raise one’s self-esteem as the cook can feel good about doing something positive for their family, themselves or loved ones [1] ”.

Ohana promptly mentions seven benefits when we cook: Feelings of accomplishment, exercise our creativity, exercise our patience, connect with others, improve our relationship with food, get healthier and get organized. Now, when we cook for someone, we generate feelings as happiness or, when we eat healthy, we rest better. In the end, everything is closely related [2] .

Consider then, that this activity is a complete emotional and sensory experience, since it makes the person who performs it feel more connected and satisfied because he or she will find meaning in what he or she does. Because his or her creativity and attention are wonderful ingredients in any food preparation and, in the end, the result will be like obtaining a prize.

Did you also know that there is a therapy that helps improve mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD and addiction? It is known as culinary therapy [3] . According to Michael Kocet, Ph.D., “is the therapeutic technique which uses culinary arts, cooking, gastronomy, and an individual’s personal, cultural, and familial relationship with the food to address the emotional and psychological problems faced by individuals, families, and groups [4] ”. 

In addition, we must keep in mind that everything in our body is connected, such as the organs of our digestive system, with our mind. Therefore, it directly affects our emotional well-being. Expressions such as “feeling butterflies in the stomach” are real, because it has been shown that our gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotions such as happiness, anger anxiety, sadness, among others. This relationship is known as the “gut-brain axis”, it links cognition and emotions to gut functions [5] . 

An article in The New York Times supports this, where it reports that microbes and the intestines produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, responsible for regulating mood and emotions. The intestinal flora or microbiota influence the mood of the person because they induce the formation of different psychiatric disorders such as major depression. In addition, consuming food rich in nutrients helps one feel less depression and higher levels of happiness, satisfaction and general mental well-being [6] .








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