How could I not talk about cooking in National Mental Health Awareness Week.
You are what you eat and good food has the ability to make you feel better physically and mentally.
For me though it’s also more than about what you cook. It is the act of cooking from scratch that can have the most benefit.
For starters it can help you switch off from your busy day or if you are not working it can define it. Try to approach cooking with a positive mind ‘I’m going to cook!’ rather than a chore ‘oh no I’ve got to cook’ and you are already at a better start point. Within 20 minutes of focusing on an activity it can help reduce stress as you get immersed into preparing and cooking your ingredients.
Wake up the senses
The smell of cooking food can be really uplifting. How many times have you come home to the smell of your favourite food and made you smile. I love the smell of frying onions, garlic and ginger and the intense smell when you add spices or herbs. Freshly baked scones is also a favourite.
The satisfaction of making something yourself can really boost your confidence which can spill into other parts of your life. I teach many people who have never cooked before and love the proud look on their faces when they create some tasty food.
Cooking can really help you if you are feeling low and anxious as well as confidence issues. I have watched many people grow in confidence after my basic cooking course and to see their smiles when they have achieved something new is priceless.
Cooking helps you build a routine if you are feeling a little lost, cooking in lockdown has been embraced by so many people to give them focus as well as learning new skills. Cooking from scratch reduces the need for snacking and knowing you have fixed meal times reduces the need to constantly be in the cupboards looking for things to eat. Eating a proper meal is more satisfying too.
Connection with other people
Ultimately food helps bring people together…friends, family and strangers. Coming together to cook and eat food is one of the oldest forms of socialisation to help create and strengthen bonds. Having a common goal of a finished dish and then sitting down to eat it has to be one of the best social activities you can take part in.
I love bringing people together through food. Over the last year it has been a privilege to bring people of all ages together on Zoom. I have taught a wide variety of dishes from basic budget cooking to more elaborate dishes to celebrate.
Cooking on Zoom
Cooking on Zoom has also enabled those with anxiety and unable to leave the house to access cooking lessons previously unable to them. I will continue to provide zoom cooking lessons for community and corporate clients who are providing heatlh and well being workshops for their employees.
Cooking on Zoom over the last year has also been positive for my own mental health. Having a reason to work, planning, recipe writing, creating event, sharing my knowledge and knowing what time of day and day of the week it has been. I have had so many messages thanking me for providing workshops which has kept them in touch with the outside world, have a laugh and provided motivation to cook and have some tasty food at the end.
I am really looking forward to cooking in real life and bringing people together again and making happy memories. Next week I will be welcoming people back into my home for private lessons and I really can’t wait!