It's the most common coping mechanism in existence: you feel a little down so you eat something delicious. On average, it does make you feel better but the high never lasts very long. 20 minutes after eating that box of Thin Mints, you feel even worse because you just consumed a box of Thin Mints! What seemed like a good idea at the time has left you with a bloated sense of guilt and shame. There is a better way!
Culinary therapy is a relatively recent phenomenon that is becoming more prevalent as therapists begin to appreciate its efficacy. Cooks have long recognized the kitchen as a sanctuary and the act of cooking as a meditative relief from the world. Now, therapists are suggesting that their patients try their hand at cooking as a means by which to relax, reflect, and eat better. But you don't need a therapist to suggest this to you: everything you need to know is below!
The most obvious advantage to kitchen therapy, but in no way a negligent one, is the increase in nutrition. More and more, therapists are looking to their patients' diets for insights into their mental health. Whereas before, people presumed that what we ate only affected our bodies, it's becoming more and more obvious now that it also affects our minds. Our brains are what consume the majority of nutrients we consume, so of course our diet will affect our outlook. Health science and therapy are now seen as inextricable. Cooking your own meals means eating better food. Whether it's a pizza or the aforementioned Thin Mints, preparing your own meal will help the cravings subside.
Cooking also breaks us out of our daily routine. Preparing a meal should be a mindful process that allows the cook to relax while also being fully aware of what she's doing. Instead of mindlessly watching television after a long day, you'll be chopping vegetables and appreciating their smell and color. Cooking becomes meditative and leads to reduced stress. You'll also be passively cultivating a skill that is incredibly valuable in today's world. You'll slowly become a better chef, leading to more delicious meals. Just like Sims!
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of cooking is the creativity inherent in the act. A recipe is always important to have, but its instructions are more like a suggestion rather than strict guidelines. You should be adding a pinch of this or a sprinkle of that with abandon. Sometimes you'll end up with a bowl of mush but there is nothing more enjoyable than deviating from a recipe and creating something even more delicious! Besides, who doesn't love the occasional bowl of mush?!
Finally, the most important aspect of this process: getting to consume your creation. The feeling of accomplishment after having plated your meal and taken your first bite is irreplaceable. Cooking is an innately rewarding process. Starting off with a group of ingredients and eating the result of your efforts, that is far greater than the sum of its parts and is cathartic beyond belief.