The benefits of home-cooked food have been reiterated since times immemorial. Experts and nutritionists highly recommend eating food that has been cooked at home to stay fit and healthy. We often feel that cooking at home is an arduous task, and it would be best to eat out or skip meals entirely. However, did you know that cooking food at home could also have a positive impact on your mental health? A new study by researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia has found a link between cooking and mental health. They revealed that learning how to cook as part of a cooking program resulted in significant improvements in mental health and could even inculcate healthy eating habits.
The study called ‘How a 7-Week Food Literacy Program Affects Cooking Confidence and Mental Health’ was published in the academic journal ‘Frontiers in Nutrition’. 657 participants were included in the study, who participated in a 7-week cooking course focussed on healthy food.
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“Significant improvements were observed in perceived general health, mental health and subjective vitality as a result of participation in this study,” read the report. The mental health benefits were reported across genders and in all participants, whether they were obese, overweight, or normal weight. These findings could be significant in tackling the obesity epidemic in Australia that has huge economic costs and health implications.
Although the participants’ diet did not directly change after the study was conducted, they did report an increase in cooking confidence which could point at healthier eating habits. “Cooking satisfaction, enjoyment and ability, that have been associated with healthier eating behaviours, were all improved for intervention participants in our study,” said the study. Learning cooking and creating a healthy meal from scratch could thus reduce the need to rely on highly-processed foods to fulfil our dietary requirements.
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So, don’t underestimate the power of a simple home-cooked meal! Cooking at home may just prove to be better not just for your physical health, but your mental well-being too.