Study Says Home Cooking Is a Key Ingredient for Mental Wellbeing

home cooking mental health
Home Cooking: A Key Ingredient for Mental HealthPeopleImages - Getty Images

Where do you rate yourself on the scale of kitchen confidence? Are you a weekend MasterChef, fermenting veg from the back garden and casing your own sausages? Or do you tend more towards convenience than flair? If the latter, then it might be time to get a little experimental, because a new study has linked time spent in the kitchen with robust mental health.

Researchers at Edith Cowan University in Australia examined the impact of a seven-week cooking course on 657 participants. Those who took part reported a significant boost to their mental wellbeing and feelings of vitality – improvements that were still in evidence at a six-month check-in.

In addition to this more positive outlook, the cooks reported renewed confidence in their ability to improve their eating habits and overcome lifestyle-related barriers (eg, lack of time) to better health.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, men might stand to benefit more than women: the study highlighted the gender disparity in culinary confidence, with 77% of female participants reporting positive feelings about their culinary prowess before tuition, compared with just 23% of men.

The noted improvements in mood could be down to more than just confidence alone. Separate research in the Journal Of Positive Psychology has linked everyday acts of creativity with better emotional wellbeing. That your own work of art is edible is all the better.

Three Steps to Weekend Zen

Not sure where to start? Perfect the art of pasta for an instant mood lift.

Flour Power

Buy Italian ‘00’ flour; it’s finer and just works better. Pour 200g into a stoneware dish. Whisk 11/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and two eggs (Burford Brown preferred).

All You Knead…

Make a well in the flour, pour in the egg, mix and combine. Start with a fork, then knead by hand for 10 to 15 mins. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

Ready to Roll

Halve the dough and flatten with a rolling pin. Then roll into 2mm-thick sheets with a pasta maker (the Marcato Atlas 150 is the gold standard). Shape as desired.

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