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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cooking Therapy: Just What the Doctor Ordered

We spend loads of money and time on all sorts of therapeutic activities from physical therapy to gym memberships to visits with family or individual therapists.  What if there was one activity that could incorporate the benefits of all these therapies, could be done in your own home, with your entire family and provide a meal to boot? We'd all be scrambling to get our hands on such a magical elixir.  The truth is that this therapeutic wonder-cure is sitting dormant in your home - in your kitchen to be exact.  Here are some reasons to take up cooking therapy.  

Physical Therapy 
A lot of physical therapy is all about movement to allow you to participate in activities of daily living.  Think about the act of cooking.  You have to leave the couch, the controller and the console. It requires you to bend, reach, stretch, lift and twist. And if you cook like a ninja, you could burn all sorts of calories! 

Mental Therapy
Cooking is edible meditation. Mindfulness in the kitchen helps you focus on the moment so that you can't fret over earlier mistakes or what-ifs.  Stress and anxiety numb our senses, but cooking enlivens them.  Consider the sensory experience of the smells, taste, touch, sound and visual aspect of food and cooking.  

You can't help but be caught up in the process of the moment and let future worries fall away.  It is also practice at letting go of perfectionism - rarely does a recipe turn out just as it looks on Pinterest.  But adjusting expectations is a type of therapy in itself.

Emotional Therapy

Cooking is comfort, and a very effective way to work through grief or heartache.  It is a wonderful creative outlet that provides a very real, tangible sense of accomplishment.
Unlike other chores, it carries its own built-in reward system - eating! Cooking also helps people feel good because it allows us to nurture other around us.  The physical, mental and emotional experience of cooking boosts self-esteem.

Family Therapy
Cooking with a partner or family members requires communication, cooperation and compromise.
Eating a meal together as a family leads to healthier habits as children become adults.  Family meal-time promotes better grades, less high-risk behaviors and eating disorders and better relationships between parent and child.  

So no more excuses that you don't have time to cook.  An hour in the kitchen for some physical activity and 2-3 therapy sessions is a serious bargain!

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