Cooking can save your life.

Cooking at home can be beneficial in so many ways, and here are just a few:

  1. It saves you money from eating out at restaurants or fast food chains.
  2. You tend to cook healthier foods that you might not eat at said restaurants.
  3. Your relationships with loved ones can improve greatly – kids can help (and learn) and your partner will look sexier than ever in an apron.
  4. Food is Love. (see #3)
  5. Cooking brings people together.
  6. It can give you a set of skills that adds to your value in life.
  7. Finally, cooking at home can add years to your life by keeping your brain exercised, active, focused, and filled with endorphins.

The following is my story of how cooking has saved my life this past year.

 

I’ve found that creating a meal of some sorts has become my way to distract myself from, well, myself. Sounds crazy, right? You see, I tend to ruminate over things in my head until I am physically worn out. I wouldn’t say I’m a worry-wort of sorts, just an introvert with an analytical mind that needs to always be figuring things out. I’m a curious old soul trying to live in this modern world and filled with lots of questions. The downside is that I like to figure out all the answers myself, which is exhausting.

A good metaphor might be a person with a lot of static physical energy that needs to run marathons, bike, climb mountains, and travel the world around and around again. These physical athletes can literally become depressed if not for physical exertion found in working out/sports. Their bodies must be exercised a certain way for vitality and continuity. For me, my mind has a lot of static energy that can really cause a lot of negative effects if it’s not used correctly. If my mind isn’t exercised correctly, it loses strength in muscle and neuron activity, thereby decreasing my effectiveness in real-life situations and self-confidence. I’m serious.

Enter in cooking.

My new form of brain exercise! My aunt once told me early on in this cooking adventure that, “If you can read, you can cook. No excuses.” And she’s so right. When people say they can’t cook, they either have no patience or they just don’t have the will to really do it, because cooking is just buying ingredients and cooking them according to a recipe.

Having recently completed a degree at a very rigorous academic institution, I’ve found that I’m not getting the mental stimulation my brain is trained to sustain since leaving university. While studying in such a competitive environment, I found out that I actually thrive on mental challenges. My first thought? grrreeat….. I’m officially a nerd.

My brain and cognitive skills became exercised to handle full-on mental marathons for 2 years. And just like running marathons, once you stop for a few weeks, it feels like you’ve lost your good muscles and lung capacity, and you actually start to feel down about yourself and life. You lose those endorphin-enriched highs. Cooking can give you those same endorphin-enriched highs, and without them, life just doesn’t feel as great! Cooking allows you the opportunity to overcome personal challenges, like the fear of touching raw meat or baking a cake. It allows you to learn something new every time you cook a recipe. And it allows you (and your family) to be proud of your kitchen accomplishments.

For me, cooking has been a saving grace. Not only for my body’s nutritional needs, but for keeping my mind actively engaged and firing on all cylinders. Cooking helps to keep my mind sharp, in shape, and even helps to learn new neuron connections through sight, smell, taste and problem-solving, all at once. Like doing crossword puzzles, going for walks, and actively engaging in activities, I believe that cooking can save your life and even add years to it (as long as you stay away from high doses of sugar & butter).

 

My suggestion for you, especially with the winter coming up, is to find the time to cook up a homemade meal at least twice a week. It will bring your mind & body back to a synergistic place and leave you with a smile on your face.

 

The next time you sit down at a meal, you can say, “Pass the endorphins, please!”

 

 

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