Cooking and Baking for Mental Health

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Can cooking make you calmer? Can baking bring you bliss?

According to UK-based research group, YouGov, the top two most popular activities that positively impact brain health in America are Cooking and Baking, in that order, according to a recent survey of adults. Cooking beat out non-food-related activities such as writing, meditation, and exercise. Cooking ranked most popular across the study involving Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Millennials.

The survey findings were shared by a meal delivery subscription review website called MealDeliveryExperts to promote their service, however, this information points to a growing trend where spending time in the kitchen is being touted as a mood booster. We’ve written about this in our article, 5 Ways Your Kitchen is the Key to a Happier Gluten-Free Life, where we explored cooking and baking to relieve stress when adapting to a gluten-free diet and living entirely gluten-free.

Cooking and Baking for Wellbeing

If you’re thinking of exploring cooking or baking to boost your mental health, consider these things:

  1. It Takes Time. If you’re a cooking master, you are probably already experiencing the joys and benefits of time spent in the kitchen. If you are just getting started with cooking or baking in general or, more specifically, gluten-free cooking and baking, understand there will be a learning curve. Have patience with yourself and take any mistakes as part of the learning process, and re-purpose them. Did the cookies not turn out quite as you expected? Use crumbs in a pie crust or sprinkle them on top of ice cream. And bread can be turned into delicious croutons. Go into the kitchen with an open mind and enjoy the creative process.

  2. Be Prepared. A positive gluten-free cooking or baking experience starts with being aware of potential cross-contact risks, particularly if you’re living with any gluten eaters. Check out our article, 7 Tips for Avoiding Gluten Cross-Contact in Your Home, for some general tips and Tools to Replace in Your Gluten-Free Kitchen to learn more specific ways to create a safer kitchen environment.

  3. Start Small. If you’re just getting started with cooking or baking, start small and use gluten-free recipes, not standard recipes that need to be adapted. These steps can help reduce any stress as you learn your way around gluten-free cooking and baking. Don’t try to tackle a dinner party until you’ve worked out the kinks!

  4. Celebrate wins. When you nail that recipe or dish, invite others to have a taste. Feel proud of your accomplishment.

 

A study in 2021, titled Positive Psychological Impacts of Cooking During the COVID-19 Lockdown Period” (Frontiers in Psychology), found that culinary activities—cooking and baking—were an “escape” activity, especially for people facing a lockdown. People who went into the kitchen expecting to be happy and relaxed received even more benefits from their kitchen activities. They also gained improved kitchen skills and personal growth or a feeling of fulfillment—all positive benefits that can be experienced beyond pandemic lockdowns.

Overall, take time to be creative—whether tackling a homemade gluten-free lasagna recipe or that flourless chocolate torte—and savor the moments, enjoying the process. Cooking and baking can bring pleasure while you’re doing it and even more after you’ve finished and are ready to eat!

 

 

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare team when considering this information.

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