Culinary therapy focuses on how one cooks, the way in which they command themselves around the kitchen to how they prepare, plate and serve each dish. It is not only very mindful but also deeply relaxing as you are encouraged to take your time when cooking and to not rush or cook in a frantic fashion.
For me, cooking has always been an integral part of who I am. From my mum’s spicy curries to her love for trying new recipes and stepping out of her comfort zone. Whilst growing up I have always either spent most of my time in the kitchen (eating whilst watching my mum cook) or just sat in awe whilst my mum would be preparing something delicious.
For me, her sheer passion and love for it really mesmerised me as she was always the happiest whilst she cooked (and still is).
Since suffering with anxiety throughout my childhood to now, I have always struggled finding a consistent medium to relieve stress through. However, whilst at university culinary therapy took a front seat.
As I would always find myself cooking, preparing different dishes and even cooking, packing and distributing food to my university pals. This notion of cooking with intention and purpose helped me to use cooking as a form of healthy therapy in easing my anxiety levels.
For me, culinary therapy involves taking the time to plan each dish and to understand which ingredients go with what and why. My typical process when it comes to culinary therapy includes thinking about the type of meal I want to cook, what sides it would be served with and how happy it would make me after eating it (sadly ordering Deliveroo does not count, no matter how happy you are devouring each bite of your takeaway). For example, a few dishes I recently cooked included Chicken and Aubergine Pie, Spicy Vegetable Calzones and a spicy Butter Chicken Curry.
To start, I research what recipe to use and how many people I would be cooking for. I then scan the ingredient list and decided what ingredients I would add for preference. This is then followed by getting the ingredients and preparing each one for cooking.
What I love to do when cooking is to either play some of my favourite tunes in the background or to jot down any tips or ways of cooking that I may have adopted a long the way. This not only helps me understand the way in which I cook more but also helps me to practice gratitude as I cook. In particular being grateful for the fresh ingredients and all of the utensils I am using to make the dish even better.
WHAT I LEARNT FROM THIS EXPERIENCE:
Focusing on each intention and reason behind what you are cooking can help you enjoy the meal more.
Eating mindfully and savouring each mouthful for longer promotes digestion and helps you to curb cravings.
Practicing gratitude whilst you cook can lift your mood and make your appreciate the little things from the fresh vegetables you use to the construction of your chosen dish.
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