Culinary Medicine: Cooking as Medicine
BySarah Axtell, ND •February 27, 2022
Here at Lakeside, we are passionate about “food as medicine.” But what about “cooking as medicine” (aka culinary medicine)? Yes, cooking itself can be therapeutic! Here are some benefits:
–Connectedness– When you cook with real, whole foods, we connect with nature. Cooking also connects us with our families- both in the present and in the past. We can honor traditions and food rituals when we make recipes passed down from generation to generation. Cooking can be a way to express love to our families as we provide them with a nourishing meal. A 2011 University of Illinois study found that children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times a week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer family meals together.
–Mindfulness– Cooking can be a time to unplug… to unwind from a busy day. Savor the flavors, textures and aromas of your food. Really think about the specific flavors of your dish. Is it sweet, bitter, spicy? Is it smooth, soft or crunchy? Take a big inhale of the aromas of the food before starting your dish. Honor your food. Take a moment to think about where your food came from. The goal is to eat real, whole food and minimized processed food. It’s easier to trace the path of real food than it is the heavily processed food, which can actually be unappetizing to think about hormone-laden cows in a CFO unit or what exactly is actually in your bag of doritos
–Self-Care– You deserve a meal cooked with love, even if you are cooking solely for yourself. I often hear patients say they don’t want to go to the “trouble” of cooking a meal for themselves. Maybe your kids are grown or you are single. Regardless, know that you are worthy and every meal prepared is an opportunity to express self-love.
–Vitality– We boost our vitality when we cook with real ingredients. When we choose to eat real, whole foods prepared at home, we improve our health, longevity, and vitality. Whether or not you are trying to lose weight, cooking dinner frequently at home is associated with consumption of a healthier diet, increased fruit and vegetable intake, and fewer calories consumed.
I strive to blend the joy of cooking with the science of medicine when I create simple, nourishing, and therapeutic recipes. It is one of my greatest joys to inspire patients to play an active role in their health, starting in the kitchen.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.