Cooking boosts your mental health

In total, 657 participants took the seven-week healthy cooking course.

Simultaneously, ECU Nutrition Research Institute scholars measured the program’s impact on participants’ cooking confidence and self-perceived mental health, as well as their overall satisfaction. for cooking and diet-related behaviors.

The researchers found that program participants saw significant improvements in general health, mental health, and subjective vitality immediately after the program, lasting six months after completing the course, when compared with the control group of the study.

Improved confidence in cooking, the ability to easily change eating habits, and overcome lifestyle barriers to healthy eating were also reported.

Lead researcher Dr Joanna Rees said the study showed the importance of diet for mental health.

“Improving the quality of people’s diets could be a preventive strategy to prevent or slow the rise in poor mental health, obesity and other metabolic health disorders,” she speaks.

“Future health programs should continue to prioritize barriers to healthy eating such as poor food environments and time constraints, while placing greater emphasis on the value of healthy eating.” through quick and easy home-cooked meals, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and avoiding over-processing of convenience foods.”

It’s not just food

The institute had previously found a link between eating more fruits and vegetables and longer-term improvements in mental health in a larger study that collected more complex dietary data, implying that current study participants may feel better due to the improved diet.

However, the study found that the participants’ mental health improved even though their reported diets were not found to be changed after completing the program.

In addition, the mental health benefits were comparable between participants who were overweight or obese and those in the healthy weight range.

“This suggests a link between cooking confidence and cooking satisfaction as well as mental health benefits.” Dr. Rees said.

Who benefits the most?

Research also shows that cooking is still a highly gendered occupation.

At the start of the program, 77% of participants who identified as female said they were confident about cooking, compared with only 23% of those who identified as male.

But by the end of the show, cooking confidence and culinary skills were about equal between both partners.

“This change in confidence could represent a shift to the home food environment by reducing gender bias and leading to a gender balance in home cooking.” Dr. Rees said.

“This could help overcome some of the barriers of not knowing how to cook, such as alleviating time constraints that can lead to ready-made meals with high energy but low nutritional value.”

‘How a 7-week food program affects cooking confidence and mental health: Results of a quasi-experimental controlled intervention trial’ has been published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

Source: Eurekalert

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