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The Therapeutic Effects of Cooking

Dara Chenevert

With over 20 years of experience as an attorney and human resources professional, Dara Chenevert most recently served as the interim chief business enterprise and safety officer at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Florida. When she is not engaged in professional pursuits, Dara Chenevert enjoys relieving stress by cooking.

Though most people tend to order take out when they are overwhelmed with the stress of life, experts suggest that spending time in the kitchen might be a better pursuit. When people focus on creating a dish that will nourish their bodies, they are forced to slow down and experience the moment. Mental health professionals with experience in culinary therapy recommend exercising mindfulness about the origins, textures, smells, tastes, and sounds one experiences when preparing a dish. One can even reflect on the origins of different ingredients.
The creativity that cooking requires is also a stress reliever. During periods of stress, one’s senses are numbed, while creativity awakens them. Chefs can alter familiar recipes to fit their own palates, or challenge themselves to create dishes with the ingredients in their pantries.
Finally, cooking meals at home is a healthy pastime that can improve one’s overall health. In addition to reducing one’s sodium intake, home cooking can be tweaked to incorporate additional omega 3 fats, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and amino acids, all components that are shown to improve brain health.

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