Until recently, cooking at home may have been considered a novelty to some of us. The novel coronavirus pandemic has shifted the way we dine and changed the frequency that we cook at home. The New York Times reports that Americans are cooking in their homes at a rate that hasn’t been seen in over 50 Years. This may sound like a drag to some, however, despite the burdensome process of cleaning and organizing, cooking offers a variety of well documented physical and mental health benefits that cannot go unspoken of.
A recent poll of over 1,000 Americans tells us that over 50% of people feel more confident in the kitchen than they did before the pandemic. 51% said that they intend on cooking more often even after the pandemic comes to an end.
Many of us feel great satisfaction after we complete cooking a meal. Although the benefits may seem clear, it’s difficult to accurately identify those particular positive health benefits.
Nicole Farmer, a doctor and research scientist at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Dr. Farmer is a contributor to a 2017 study that has found preliminary evidence which suggests that cooking may influence psychological health in a positive way. Granted, more research is required to prove the validity of the findings, however, it’s not uncommon to find cooking classes as a referred method of therapy.
Cooking reduces stress. It gives us the opportunity to achieve a somewhat difficult task, and then enjoy that task when we eat the food we’ve cooked. Cooking also helps to enrich our social community. When we cook for others, we are also given the opportunity to share with friends and family. When others enjoy the food we have created it perpetuates the positive feedback mechanisms that come with achieving small victories, and motivates us to cook again.
Cooking also has the unique ability to take us out of our daily routines, similar to a miniature vacation. For example, cooking a stir fry requires cleaning and cutting vegetables and preparing cooking materials. This level of engagement requires allocating time in one’s day to focus on the preparation of a meal. This time should be designated for cooking purposes only.
Farmer also says that cooking offers exposure to other senses through scent and to visual appeal, which trigger parts of the brain associated with well-being. Essentially, when you cook you’re aiming to make something smell and taste good, this will motivate you to pursue the same principals in other avenues of your life.
So, next time you go to order takeaway from your favorite restaurant, think about all the good feelings you get when you cook, and search for a recipe that interests you.