Tis the season of giving, a time to show appreciation for the people we love. And when it comes to offering and sharing, food is right up there as a way to say ‘hey you’re awesome’. You probably won’t communicate it in so many words. It might sound more like ‘dive in people! this trifle needs eating’, but everyone will get the idea. And while everyone loves to receive a home-prepared meal or a tray of cookies, cooking does us, the cooks, a world of good too.


The mental health benefits of cooking have been well documented. Indeed ‘culinary arts therapy’ is now officially a thing, combining – not a substitute for – traditional counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy with cooking practice. These sessions are reported to have especially positive effects on those suffering from depression, anxiety and grief.

The findings of a study of 658 students in 2016 by Otago University suggested that, along with other creative endeavours such as painting and knitting, cooking from scratch can help ward off depression. Commenting on the results, which were published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, study author Dr Tamlin Conner said: “Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.”

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