In November, we are exploring the link between nutrition and mental health. Food and cooking are being appreciated for more than just satisfying hunger and nutritional needs; its psychological benefits and in some cases, even therapeutic benefits are now being acknowledged. It’s about the whole process of gathering and preparation. Although the determinants of mental health are complex, food and nutrition are influential factors.
Each week in November, we will be sharing tips, recipes and information on how food and nutrition is related to mental health and wellbeing. Become a UBC Health Contact to receive weekly reminders, tips and tricks.
Week 1: Cooking and Positive Mental Health
It’s been suggested that completing small creative tasks such as cooking and baking increases wellbeing, particularly enthusiasm and feelings of flourishing . Focusing on small tasks in a manner similar to meditation can help boost mood. Cooking or meal prepping can be similar to meditation; the outcome is good food if executed properly. Culinary therapy is being implemented as a viable part of treatment plans for mental health clinics for a wide range of mental and behavioural health conditions .
Check out the following to help boost your abilities and confidence:
- Simple and fun cooking videos with Sarah Carey in Everyday Food
- Quick and easy recipe videos via Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube
Week 2: Link Between Proper Nutrition and Mental Wellbeing
A clear link between cooking and mental health is nutrition and the ability to have better control of the quality of your diet if you prepare food yourself. Nutrition plays a huge factor in keeping our brains healthy and for mental wellbeing. Brains operate at a very high metabolic rate, and therefore use a lot of the body’s total energy and nutrient intake. Some nutrients that are key to brain health and functioning include carbohydrates, fat, protein and in particular omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamins C and E, iron, zinc and magnesium , .
Here are some healthy recipes to try out:
- Cookspiration’s Scottish oat and leek pilaf with salmon
- Oh She Glows’ maple cinnamon apple and pear baked oatmeal. Have it with walnuts and soy milk for extra brain health benefits.
- Feasting at Home’s lentil with swiss chard, roasted beets and goat cheese
Week 3: Hacks to Reduce Stress
Cooking and preparing food is a sensory experience involving aromas, tastes, touch, visuals and sounds. It can even be a way to relieve stress because it serves as a creative outlet that can also improve daily happiness . Why not add a dash of mindfulness? Cooking can be an activity that is grounding and keeps you in the moment while focusing on the task at hand.
- Check out Huffington Post’s five tips for mindful cooking
- Check out Melissa Baker’s blog post on meals to help you Thrive. Melissa is a registered dietitian and Manager of Nutrition and Wellbeing in UBC Food Services.
Week 4: Celebrating Food and Being Together
How about a heaping spoonful of joy? It’s easy to dismiss cooking as just another chore, however cooking can be fun and a lot more interesting than folding laundry. Here’s how you can enjoy the cooking process more and not worry too much about the end product being perfect. As long as it tastes good, right?
Try these tips and tricks to have more fun in the kitchen:
- Huffington Post’s five tips for having fun in the kitchen
- Check out Thug Kitchen recipes to lighten up the mood in the kitchen
Melissa Lafrance’s Tip of the Month
Try a friendship salad or meal where each colleague brings a prepared ingredient. When friends and flavours come together collectively, you’re left with a delicious dish for everyone to enjoy. Check out Greatist’s healthy and easy fall salads.