After a long day, getting takeout or going to a restaurant is both convenient and enjoyable. But there are physical and mental health benefits in cooking meals at home.
Food is a central part of traditions and holidays. Cooking and food overall is a subject that unites people. Recent studies have started to explore potential correlations between good mental health and the consumption of specific foods or supplements.
Reducing the amount of restaurant prepared meals is a positive behavior change for many people. At the same time, reducing the amount of packaged food is also a positive move in the right direction. With this in mind, here a few of the psychological and physical benefits of cooking at home.
 Cognitive Benefits:
Cooking at home and trying out new recipes is a great way to exercise the brain. This is a nice break from a person’s regular workday activities. Following new recipes and experimenting with different ingredients provides people some creativity. New parts of the human brain are used during this process.
These new brain activities can be particularly helpful for senior citizens. Cooking a meal from scratch helps seniors keep their mind engaged and learning new experiments. Cooking presents new tasks and pleasant mental challenges for seniors and helps to ward off cognitive decline. Slowing the occurrence of cognitive decline in seniors is important, since this demographic is vulnerable to depression and suicide.
Naturally, if an individual has more severe cognitive decline, safety is important while cooking especially when using kitchen knives and hot stoves. Successfully putting together recipes and cooking them into a finished dish creates a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.
 Relieve Anxiety:
The actions that are related to cooking can create a soothing effect. The rhythm of chopping and stirring allows an individual’s brain to focus on the here and now. Even the act of planning out and shopping for ingredients can provide some structure and stress relief. Cooked meals at home can create a shared experience with family and friends.
It is normal and healthy for individuals to experience some level of daily anxiety. These kinds of stressors provide benefits to people by signaling to them that they should prepare for a potentially challenging activity. However, people should understand the difference between day-to-day stress and more severe conditions such as anxiety disorders or panic attacks.
 Eat Better and Reduce Calories:
Some restaurant meals can be very healthy. However, this is not true for all prepared restaurant food. Many dishes that have been prepared in a restaurant are often loaded with excessive amounts of salt, sugar and fat. These items often taste good to people, so restaurants often load up dishes with these ingredients. Instant and pre-made packaged food is also often loaded with sodium, fat, sugar (syrup) as well as additives.
When people cook at home and prepare a meal from basic ingredients, they are better able to control what things are added to the meal. This allows people to usually create meals that are more nutritious. At the same time, they are able to create dishes that are lower in calories due to the fact that they are using fresher ingredients. People start to eat fewer calories without consciously focusing on this task.
If individuals have prepared the meal themselves, they are less likely to serve themselves larger restaurant-sized portions or have a dessert. A home cooked meal makes it easier to practice moderation and be mindful of what is being consumed.
The act of cooking should not be since as a replacement for professional psychiatric therapy. In fact, some people may not like the cook; and that is okay. The goal for people is to find what works best for them. There are no magic silver bullets for people, only ways to understand how they interact with the world around them. In the end, everyone wants to maintain good mental health and be happy.
Who We Are:
Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center provides experienced and compassionate mental health services in Dublin, Ohio. They treat a wide variety of conditions ranging from depression and anxiety disorders to substance abuse and OCD. For questions about this topic or to schedule an appointment, contact them by email or by phone.
Reach out to them at: (614) 580-6917.
Contributor: ABCS RCM