From an early age, I reinforced the idea that the kitchen was just not for me. Why? Many times, you spend an awful amount of time preparing and cleaning, and a very short time actually enjoying your food. I have skipped meals countless times because the thought of going through the cooking process is in itself tiring. I used to be the girl at family functions who is told that she will not find a husband because she doesn’t like to cook, and I found it hilarious. I know a lot of you relate to this. Recently, however, I noticed that a lot of the values which I am actively trying to acquire can be learnt by cooking food. So here’s some food for thought. In the kitchen, you get practical self-tests on your levels of self-control, delayed gratification, and patience. You might read about the acquisition of these values in self-help books for years, but activities like cooking are a perfect way to monitor your mastery of them.
It’s no wonder the Homo Erectus who first discovered fire chose to use it for an essential process: cooking. Cooking is ubiquitous in humans. All cultures, from the Inuit of the frozen Arctic to the hunter-gatherers of sub-Saharan Africa, are sustained by food that has been chemically and physically transformed by heat. It was an incredible invention.
Here are the benefits of cooking.
- It fosters creativity
It’s impossible to exhaust the foods that can be prepared in the kitchen. If you ever get to exhaust them, then there’s always room for more invention. The kitchen is a great place to learn how to be creative through multi-tasking, mixing different ingredients together, and making work easier for yourself. No two people cook the same (use the same ingredients, seasoning, and measuring sizes), hence the plethora of cookbooks and recipes available. This means that the kitchen experience is different for everyone, and you get to express your individuality and creativity. It creates an environment that fosters innovation. A study conducted in 2016 concluded that the creativity involved in baking made people feel more grounded and capable.
- Cooking is stress relieving
You come home from a tough day at work. You are stressed, and you decide that you don’t want to be stressed and hungry at the same time. So you get into the kitchen and make yourself something to eat, and suddenly you are feeling much happier and pleased with yourself. I’m sure this has happened to you once or twice. You see, the spices and aromatic ingredients in your food have been known to curb stress. When you are frying onions, you tend to concentrate on the aroma. Aromatherapy, which is the use of aroma to manage stress, has gained a lot of attention in recent years. The Science Of Smell – Understanding The Benefits Of Aromatherapy
In fact, mental health experts credit cooking with helping to relieve depression, anxiety, and its manifestations, like eating disorders. Mental health clinics have started using cooking as a type of behavioural therapy. Studies actually show a link between cooking and levels of the hormone serotonin which is a mood stabilizer.
- Cooking helps you to connect with others
Have you ever cooked for your family or friends and instantly felt more connected to them? Well, that’s because cooking for people is an act of service, a love language for many. Other than this, cooking together with your loved ones strengthens the bond that you have with them. When you are cooking with people, there is a need for coordination and communication, which are things that strengthen a connection.
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Community kitchen programs have shown that cooking groups may help foster socialization and improve social isolation. In a survey posted on Brides, 87% of those surveyed believed that cooking is one of the top activities couples can do to strengthen their relationship. The study showed that the same group of people put a very high value on communication too. But other than couples, cooking is great for the family too. It is an engaging offline activity that unifies the family and promotes gratitude for the food.
- Cooking is an act of self-love
For a good part of my childhood, I never used to eat breakfast. Why? Because I snoozed and snoozed my alarm until I only had time to shower, brush my teeth, dress up, and leave. But then I realised that this not only heightened my anxiety, but it made me miss out on the most important meal of the day. In other words, I was neglecting myself. The Secret Benefits Of Having Breakfast Early In The Morning
If not for anyone else, then do it for you. Cooking is an act of self-love. The very act of spending time in the kitchen to create something that suits your palette is a symbol of self-love. Chef Anita Lo puts it this way: If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s very hard to take care of others. I think food is an identity, and it can be very reaffirming to eat what you love. Self-care is about prioritizing your needs over your wants so that you can care for yourself on all levels; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Cooking is the single most fundamental way that you can impact your physical being, it nourishes you on all levels.
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- Boosts your confidence levels
Everyone starts from somewhere. Nobody is born a great cook, but by practising we become better at it and perfect the art. In other words, learning how to cook is progressive, and because of this, it boosts your confidence as you get better at it. It helps to raise one’s self-esteem as the cook can feel good about doing something positive for their family, themselves, or loved ones.
A study published in the US National Library of Medicine concluded that community-based cooking interventions yielded positive influences on socialization, self-esteem, quality of life, and affect. In fact, with this in mind, you might want to start teaching your kids how to cook early enough. It helps to instil confidence in them. Knowing that they can start and then complete a task can help to build self-esteem and confidence.
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Check out these spices which have numerous benefits which you should use in your cooking – cloves, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, cumin, dhania, cardamom, cayenne pepper and garlic.