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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2020

The emotional benefits of cooking

Food plays multiple roles in our lives. At its most basic, we need it for our very survival. Nutrition also influences our physical and emotional health and can sink or boost our moods. What we eat can give us something to look forward to or even make us feel better afterward.

Many people today may be surprised to find a focus on food that previously wasn’t there. Whether in the form of comfort or as a means of distraction, food is taking on a primary role as we wait out the stay-at-home-policies resulting from Covid-19.

The power of cooking

Much more than just providing sustenance, many of us may be discovering the force behind mixing or blending ingredients. If you’ve been putting on an apron or rifling for recipes during these unprecedented times, you might experience these benefits:

It can relieve anxiety:When you’re cooking, your mind is distracted on the task at hand. Following a recipe or concentrating on the process engages your senses and keeps you connected to the present.

It can help us cope: One of the more common sentiments people are expressing during this period of isolation is that they feel like nothing is in their control anymore. But when you cook, there is a sense of gaining back some of that control, at least for the time you spend in your kitchen.

It can create nurturing feelings: Food can make us feel better. That’s why it’s often one of the first things we turn to when we’re upset and sad or at the opposite end of the spectrum - when we want to celebrate. There is an element of nurturing we feel when we take care of ourselves and others. Feeding someone else not only gives them sustenance but creates feelings of joy and contentment.

The 5 benefits of cooking at home

If you’ve been a little concerned about taking in a few more calories, focus instead on all the benefits that cooking can provide. Here are 5 of them:

1. There is an end result – and hopefully, it’s delicious

One of the advantages of cooking is that you’re creating a product. And when you’re finished, you have tangible evidence of your efforts. If it turned out well, this can help you feel more successful and that you accomplished the task. Research has shown that these feelings can also carry over after the meal is complete.

2. Improves quality of life

Studies have also shown that those who took part in therapeutic cooking discovered a positive influence regarding their socialization, self-esteem and quality of life. Whether you take a cooking class to master your skills or learn on your own, there is almost always a positive response as you are able to engage most of your senses.

3. Requires your attention

When you’re cooking, you must pay attention to the task at hand. People often talk about getting “lost” in the activity as it demands total focus to gather the right ingredients and follow the specific directions from the recipe. This level of concentration blocks out other thoughts or concerns and can actually make you feel more relaxed.

4. Creates a meaningful moment

The couple that cooks together may find another opportunity to share and function as a team. There are no limits beyond what you create yourself and it’s a great outlet for expression, as well as just having fun. If you’re part of a couple, explore making a meal together or experiment with a scrumptious dessert. 

5. Can be more nutritious

When you cook at home you are in control of the ingredients and preparation of the meal. When eating out in restaurants, you won’t have a say unless you have access to dining that makes it a point to offer nutritional choices or to cook with your specific needs in mind. Otherwise, you may not always be receiving the benefit of healthful food or cooking methods.

Wondering what to cook?

There are so many choices and you finally have the time to explore your options. Our daily lives so often reduce our cooking skills to merely fielding the question of what to have for dinner.

Take a moment to consider if there was a dish you always wanted to master. Maybe you’re inspired to create Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon or the perfect chocolate chip cookie. You might decide instead to recreate a special meal you enjoyed when visiting a favorite country or focusing on a category such as baking bread or making your own pasta.

Getting all the ingredients may be a challenge while you’re staying at home. If you’re not going out for groceries or can’t have them delivered you can still take a turn in the kitchen. Check online for recipes you can make using what’s likely already in your pantry.

Making the best of today

Finding activities we can take part in while we are home will go far in helping us to maintain calm and a positive outlook on the future. Cooking may be one of those actions that can offer you a break from the concerns of the day while creating a delicious meal.

But don’t make this something stressful. If it turns out not to be what you enjoy, just walk away. If you do give it a try, remember to have fun, get creative and share the results with photos as you connect with family and friends. 

Ingleside at King Farm

Cooking is much more than a means to provide nutrition and during these unsettled times, it may also take on the role of comforter or inspiration.

At Ingleside at King Farm, our dining program provides both nutritious and delicious options for our residents. We’re also here if your loved one or yourself needs support in navigating these challenging days. 

Call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a virtual tour today.

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