CAN COOKING HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?

Home cooking food challenges are booming on social media and it’s GREAT! One upside of lockdown is that people that perhaps wouldn’t usually have the time or the need to cook at home now do. All of us, us ‘normal people’, or as we like to say in France “Monsieut et Madame Tout-Le-Monde”. In addition to it being good for our bank balance, our health and nutrition, there is evidence that it is also having a positive effect on our mental health.

From a personal point of view, I am enjoying re-discovering spending time outdoors and spending more time cook at home – healthy, nutritious and sustainable meals for my family. When I was young still living in France I used to spend most of my free time outdoors – hiking and cycling, but also foraging, gardening, growing veg and then learning how to cook and eat what was grown! This is a something I have missed for 12 years living in London. Being self-sufficient and proud of what I can grow and cook is immensely rewarding and there is a joy in doing this that I don’t get in other activities.

“People who love to eat are always the best people” said the American TV chef, Julia Child. Through the lock-down a kind of reality is showing us that in many households the well being of some of us were at risk.

Let’s talk about fact, in recent weeks the British media has been sharing news and statistics that a large part of our community is suffering from anxiety or stress. Understandable. Some of the contributing factors to this being lack of exercise and activities, missing friends and family, being unable to visit green spaces and poor nutrition.

For me, balancing work and my mental health has always been important as I had an intense job in a fast-paced kitchen. I used to cycle to and from work 5 days a week, go for a 5k run at least once a week, do self defence classes 2 evenings a week and visit the pub or restaurant with friends once a week, as well as visit family, plan a holiday, take a weekend break… Lockdown meant my whole routine was turned upside down as it was for us all. Other than a 1 outside walk or run a day, as per the government advice, I had no work and no activities to occupy me and my mind.

Lockdown led me back to cooking at home for fun! Like most chefs, I was cooking more at work that at home, but I LOVE to cook. For the past 8 weeks I have been cooking at home for my fiancée and parents-in-law to keep myself busy and to feel well. When I say to ‘feel well‘ I refer to my mental health and the benefits I get from the activity of cooking; reading, experimenting and learning recipes; the success and feeling of pride of a dish gone well; the knowledge I am eating healthy food and teaching those around me about nutrition. It all aids our well-being. A good diet makes me feel more active and energetic; being more active makes me want to eat nutritious homemade food.  I have posted three articles that I think will be helpful and will show why we can all be more aware cautious about diet, exercise and mental health.

What is the best diet for mental health ?

This article from the Medical News Today explains why having a right diet can be one of the reason to feel better. The article gives a list of what nutritionists recommend to eat.

More Reason To Give Up Fast Food: Cooking Can Benefit Your Mental Health

“Culinary therapy involves everything from cultivating a garden and planning grocery list to preparing meals, and the process been shown relieve stress, improve focus, advance social skills, and aide in sensory awareness.”

10 Positive Ways To Manage Your Mental Health During Covid-19

Probably, one of the most representative article that I have been reading. This article might help to organise a kind of routine which sometimes is necessary to keep the balance stable.

This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK is “kindness” and like everybody knows, “Sharing is Caring”! Who will you share a meal or a recipe with this week?

I am not saying that cooking will solve all our problems, but you could just learn a new skill for life! So Happy Cooking and enjoy the recipes posted on this blog.

 

 

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