The Mental Benefits of Cooking

I felt discombobulated this morning – well, depressed is a better term – given all the ugly news over the past several days. I had a good talk with Ray, a little cry and then did what I always do when I feel disconnected and a bit unraveled.  I cooked.

Cooking serves several purposes for me.

First, I am up and moving around, not sitting in my chair with my computer on my lap.  Since my work involves the computer, it’s always wonderful when I am NOT staring at it, but rather doing something else.  In this case, the “else” was preparing a turkey meatloaf, a big salad, fresh Brussel sprouts, and corn on the cob at ten this morning. (The meatloaf takes a half hour to prepare and then has to cook for 1 1/2 hours.)

The second purpose cooking serves is as a calming activity.  The business of gathering needed ingredients, getting them measured and in the bowl and stirring them all up gives my brain something else to think about besides troubling thoughts.  I focus on what I’m doing, not on what I’m thinking and that is generally a better way to operate, at least in my world.

The third benefit of cooking is obvious – a nutritious, delicious meal.  Not only does this help stabilize the blood sugar and satisfy the taste buds, but it also brings a level of order to my home.  There is something deeply satisfying about partaking in a decent meal.  Life feels smaller, more compartmentalized, more manageable.

After prepping, cooking and eating my lunch today (and a smaller portion for dinner), I feel better overall.  I cannot control much outside in the bigger world, but I can control what I put in my mouth for food.  That has real value just in itself.

I believe cooking helps me to have clarity about what is in my realm of influence and what is not. That is not to say that I should not do my best to make a difference in the world.  I definitely need to do my part.  But that part starts with me making sure that I am getting proper nourishment, physically, mentally and spiritually.  And what better place to start than in a kitchen with a few ingredients and a bowl?

I hope you’ve had at least one good meal today, my friends.  We all need to take care of ourselves.

I’ll check in again tomorrow.

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