OPINION:Cooking your way to happiness key to success

Headshot of Kellie Balaam
Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
Denmark based chef Silas Masih.
Camera IconDenmark based chef Silas Masih. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Whether you’re a master chef or a master of culinary disasters, now is the time to get to the kitchen because according to science, cooking can make you happier.

Health writer Linda Wasmer Andrews, who has a masters degree in health psychology, reports that culinary therapy is being used to treat patients with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and ADHD.

That steady chop of the knife against the chopping board and a pot of bubbling water on the stove are some of the sounds that can soothe the soul after a long day at work.

While some people might think of cooking as a chore, many others can vouch for the therapeutic power of time spent in the kitchen.

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“Preparing a meal is unlike anything else I do in the course of the day,” food writer Ellen Kanner said.

“It’s a nourishing, centring act that gets me to slow down and focus.”

Australian chef Stephanie Alexander has also spoken about cooking being “challenging and relaxing” and a “stimulating activity”.

Cooking meets the criteria of a type of therapy called behavioural activation.

This is where certain activities can suppress depression by reducing procrastination and increasing goal-oriented behaviour.

This is where Inspire can come in.

Each week, we get in touch with local chefs and foodies from around the Albany region asking them to provide a recipe of choice that might inspire our readers to find their cooking spark and try something new.

In this edition, we have a delicious dish from Silas Masih at Pepper & Salt in Denmark.

If you can get your hands on the ingredients, why not give Silas’ marron recipe a go and bring a mix of traditional Fijian and Australian cuisine to your dining room table?

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found people who took on creative projects like cooking often felt more relaxed during the day.

Given the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think we could all benefit from some tools to boost our mental health.

So, the next time you feel a little gloomy, why not put on some uplifting tunes, grab an apron, and try your hand at baking or cooking?

It might surprise you just how good your feel after plating up something of your own.

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