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  • Writer's pictureEléonore Arnold

Why Does Cooking Make You Happy?

Trimming the vegetables, simmering the sauce in the pan, inhaling the smells of your next feast, cooking’s awakening all our senses. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel good, relaxes me, makes me happy. I’ll grant you that, it’s probably also because I’m a food addict and my taste buds shiver just at the sight of the next dish on the stove… But more seriously, why does cooking make you happy? Are there any explanations?

Creativity as a source of happiness

Who has never felt serenity and joy while baking a good cake? In addition to enjoying your meal, cooking contributes, like all daily creative activities, to our happiness and well-being. This is what a study by researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, reveals.

The study confirms that spending time on creative activities makes us feel better. Researchers from the Department of Psychology surveyed 658 New Zealand students between the ages of 17 and 25, 70% of whom were women. For 13 days, participants kept a journal to record their experiences and emotional state. The results were conclusive. The students felt happier, more energetic, with a sensation of well-being the day after the activity.

"Creative behaviour increases well-being the next day, and this increased well-being is likely to facilitate creative activity on that day,” says Tamlin Connor, author of the study."

Better stress management

Isn’t knowing how to channel your emotions and better manage your anxieties one of the keys to happiness? The kitchen is a wonderful playground to express your feelings, release your tensions and get rid of your daily worries. It is an outlet and enables us to better express ourselves through good food! Isn’t that wonderful? By expressing yourself in this way, you will increase your general well-being.

Cooking, a vector of positive psychology

In the list of the most cited activities in the development of creativity: writing, knitting, painting, drawing, and… cooking! Having your pots dance with each other (and dropping a tear when cutting onions) is right for you and would be an excellent way to cultivate your sense of accomplishment. Indeed, making a recipe and tasting the fruit of one’s labour is a way to increase one’s personal satisfaction and creativity is linked to emotional functioning. If you’re not a cordon bleu and cooking doesn’t seem within your reach, start with easy recipes, sweet or savour. I also recommend the cooking classes of the two-starred French Chef Bruno Oger. You may know Masterclass, this American platform that offers courses on all subjects through high-quality Netflix-style videos, all taught by the biggest stars in each field? Well, the same concept has just arrived in France with Mentorshow and I must say that I am impressed and conquered by it. Bruno Oger teaches you through video lessons on how to cook, shares his tips… I’ve started the lessons and it’s absolutely great, I’m a fan! For you, English speaking people, you’ll be able to cook with the wonderful Gordon Ramsay through the American version Masterclass!! All this to tell you that the important thing is to get started!

Fostering mindfulness

Cooking is conducive to mindfulness! It has the same effects as meditation, allowing you to see the essential, to be more serene and to refocus on yourself to see your progress and accomplishments. According to the Dana Velden, American author of the little guide Cooking is meditation, the kitchen is the perfect place to settle down, to concentrate on a single task, whether it’s cutting vegetables or kneading dough for the next “tarte tatin” to come. Personally, cooking soothes me. And when you have a brain like mine, ceaselessly boiling, these times of culinary meditation are absolutely essential! It’s a beautiful activity for people who want to learn how to take breaks but never find the time to include them in their busy schedule. Dana Velden advises to combine cooking and meditation, or at least to take the time to pay attention, real attention, to what is happening on the cutting board. She’s preaching to the choir! But what about you?

Eating healthier

It’s not a secret that cooking conveys inner well-being, but also allows you to eat healthier by favouring fresh products and avoiding processed products, which are fattier and low in right nutrients. I’m not going to draw a picture, I think you understand me. Have you ever heard of culinary therapy? Are you familiar with this term? Maybe not. And yet, culinary art therapy does exist. Cooking as a means of communication and expression, that’s a good idea. Many people find it challenging to open up to strangers or even their closest family members or colleagues. When a person can relax and engage in something creative, fun and inspiring, they have the ability to feel freer, more vulnerable, honest and ready to connect. The benefits of culinary art therapy are rich and delicious. There are also life skills and tools to be acquired throughout life (stress management, self-esteem, time management, self-awareness etc. as stated above).

Cooking, a vehicle for sharing.

I believe that one of the things I like most about the cuisine is above all the sharing. During my previous solo trips through the magnificent landscapes of the Australian east coast or the mythical Japanese Tokaïdo, what I missed the most, in the end, was sharing my meals. The solo trip is a wonderful experience, and my journey to Japan was the most beautiful of my life for various reasons, but Kobe meat…how I would have liked to enjoy it with someone! I was so disappointed to taste it alone that the poor Japanese cook in front of me (who was also giving me a spectacle of flying knives and cutting remarkable millimetre-sized vegetables), was hit with a fistful of questions. He didn’t speak a word of English. After a few minutes, I understood that the discussion would be limited. Too bad… I enjoyed this Japanese menu, but with two or more people, this meal would have been so much tastier!

All this to tell you that cooking is excellent for yourself, but so much better in numbers! It brings people together, unites them and is a single, universal language This is undoubtedly why raclette, the famous Sunday brekkie or the Savoyard fondue, to name a few, are so much appreciated. Cooking is above all about sharing!

It’s all yours!

It’s up to you to get on the stove to bake a cake…why not a chocolate one (to make the most of its anti-stress properties). Put on your aprons!

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