Can Cooking Benefit Your Mental Health?

There are plenty of articles out there discussing ways in which cooking can benefit your mental health. Just think about all the professional terminologies that exist: culinary therapy, culinary mindfulness, therapeutic cooking, etc. So, to put it simply, yes, cooking benefits your mental health. We have identified 5 benefits of cooking for your mental health and wellbeing.

Benefit 1: Accomplishment feelings

Mother cooking pasta for daughter

Whenever you decide to cook for yourself or others, you are essentially setting yourself an achievable goal. This can be linked to behavioural activation therapy. This is a therapy commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, that increases the patients contact with sources of rewards, as per the Society of Clinical Psychology. In other words, cooking leads to positive and goal-oriented behaviour that makes the cook feel that they accomplished something and ultimately raises their self-esteem.

Benefit 2: Means of creative expression

Cooking caprese salad lifestylePictured above: Kintsugi Plate, Sakai Kyuba Nakiri knife, Aomori Hiba cutting board.

Another way cooking benefits your mental health is through its need for creativity. In 2016, the Journal of Positive Psychology published a study showing that individuals who spend time on creative tasks seem to have happier lives. Home cooking is a great example of this as it requires you to be creative by experimenting with different flavour combinations. Even if you are following a recipe, you are being creative if you are making small changes such as substituting one ingredient for another.

Benefit 3: Teaches patience

woman cutting with sakai kyuba blue chefs knifePictured above: Sakai Kyuba Gyuto knife and Dark walnut cutting board.

It comes as no surprise that cooking at home requires patience. You need to wait for the water to boil, wait the adequate time for that cake to bake fully and wait for food to cool down to taste it. Like the proverb says “patience is a virtue” and psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff wrote: “It’s (patience is) an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act”. Hence helping you build your patience is yet another way cooking benefits your mental health.

Benefit 4: Connects you with others

Two women baking a cakeNot only can you benefit mentally from cooking for others but also from cooking with them. When you cook with someone else you are creating a sense of community and improving your communication. After all, you need to coordinate different tasks and work together to create a meal.

Benefit 5: Get organised

Cooked salmon and salad on wooden tray and dark walnut utensilsPictured above: Dark Walnut Utensils Set and Wooden Tray

Making meal plans and accounting for ingredients and equipment you need to cook at home can help improve your organisation and mindfulness. For instance, planning your meals for the week will make you know what you need ahead of time and will help you better manage grocery lists, budgets, eat healthier and stay organised.

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