Culinary Therapy

As many of my blog posts and television cooking segments will attest, I have a strong opinion about the importance of family meal time. There are numerous benefits- both emotional and physical. Today I have been pondering the benefits in the kitchen not just for the family but specifically for the cook. 

Since my college days I have found cooking to be a therapeutic way to slow my mind and help me focus. A rhythmic chopping of vegetables or slow stirring of a soup or sauce has always provided me with a form of meditation. Meditation with the bonus of a good meal afterward. Recently I read an article about culinary therapy as a treatment for a wide range of mental and behavioral health conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD and addiction.


Here is a list of some of the reasonings behind cooking as a form of therapy:

1. Nutrition: Preparing food yourself usually leads to a healthier, more balanced diet. There’s growing recognition that choosing a high-quality diet plays a major role in keeping your brain healthy.

2. Mindfulness: I really love that word. It denotes a state of really having your mind present in what you are doing. Too many times we kick into auto pilot mode to complete our daily tasks. The process of cooking provides an amazing opportunity to slow down and really take in the process of preparing our food. The smells, the colors, the textures, and of course the taste- all a chance to cognitively focus on what is around us and use our senses to help us reach a state of mindfulness. When you’re focusing on the moment this way, you’re not stressing over the past or worrying about the future.

3. Attitude of Gratitude: Reflecting on how the food actually reached your table provides a chance to marvel at the process. For example, a seed was planted that eventually became the fruit in your meal. The harvesting of vegetables in your salad- all a great opportunity to show gratitude for what you have.

4. A creative outlet: The combination of colors, the mixing of flavors, the beauty that is your creation. Inventing and experimenting with new combinations can be a great source of creativity and also a great way to boost self esteem.

It’s easy to think of cooking as just another routine chore. However, looking at the process with a focus on the therapeutic benefits can help us freshen up not just our recipes, but our perspective as well.

Krista Numbers

Krista is the founder of Simplify Supper. She is passionate about making family dinner a priority and strives to provide simple solutions to make it happen.

Feb 02, 2014
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