Cooking for wellbeing

01 November 2021

By Zach Fairbanks, Co Founder of Wellbeing in Your Office

In one of our own blogs , we wrote about the 5 Pillars of wellbeing which are summarised below:

  1. Giving to others
  2. Movement
  3. Learning / developing a new skill
  4. Mindfulness
  5. Connection

It is said and research supports that by actively utilising these 5 pillars, our sense of wellbeing will improve. There is one activity that pretty much encompasses all these 5 in one go – it’s a bit like your 5 a day in one tasty smoothie! This activity is …..Cooking. Yep, that simple enough task we do at home is a great way to improve our over all wellbeing. But like a lot of things, it is how you do it that counts. Making baked beans on toast is probably not going be quite the same as a more complex meal made from scratch but you also don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay either.

Cooking from scratch can simply mean following a fairly straight forward recipe, many of which you can find online or from your local supermarket. We have a few on our Wellbeing in Your Home website you might like to try.

How does cooking involve the 5 pillars of Wellbeing?

Giving to others – well as I said earlier, it’s about how you do things. Cooking for yourself is one thing but cooking for others is the giving part. Creating a wonderful meal for family and friends feels so good and we gain pleasure from giving especially when it’s really nourishing the people we are giving to. Pleasurable activities nourish our resilience which helps manage stress.

Movement – We are on our feet when we are cooking, we are moving around and changing position. It doesn’t have to be about going to the Gym every-time. It’s important we are on our feet some of the time rather than the constant sitting that we find ourselves in day after day. Cooking gets us standing up and moving our bodies.

Learning / developing a new skill – pretty straight forward this one. The more you cook, the better you get at the differing aspects of cooking. The better you get, the more enjoyable it becomes and the more you can stretch yourself to do differing things. This improves focus and enjoyment of activities helps keep us feeling well.

Mindfulness – my favourite aspect of all of this. Bringing attention to the present moment on purpose with focus is essentially what being mindful means. Those of you that practice mindfulness will probably throw in non-judgment and beginners mind but i’m keeping it simpler for now. Life is lived in the present moment and the better we get at practicing being in it, the better our wellbeing – Fact! There are loads of research papers on mindfulness. It works, it’s simple as that. The conclusion from Harvard scientists on what makes people happy or doesn’t in the case of their study was this: A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Bring attention to what we do is the key but so often we find ourselves on autopilot and the our mind wanders away to worries, concerns etc. Cooking from scratch is a great way to become mindful, the focus on the ‘how to’ part, the smells, the colours, the tastes all contribute in helping us be present for what we are doing. When we get to the eating part, we can slow down and take our time with our wonderful meal again this is practicing mindfulness.

Connection – Connecting to people is huge for wellbeing. In fact, the US conducted some research and the 2 biggest contributors to having a longer life were having a connection to family and friends and having connection to your community. These 2 aspects beat going to the gym which was actually way down the list surprisingly. When we cook for others and we sit at a table and eat, we are connecting like we have done for 10,s if not 100’s of thousands of years.

On Friday November 12th at 12:30pm via Zoom, Colmore Bid have asked us to run a cook along session with one of our fabulous nutritionists, Jenna. Jenna has been on Sky News , Good Morning and BBC News. She’s amazing. So please join this session and get into cooking as part of your own wellbeing strategy.