Cooking confidence is good for body and mind

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  • Learning how to cook can improve one's mental and physical health.
  • Knowing how to cook also decreases one's consumption of processed foods.
  • The positive impact of cooking lessons was observed six months down the line.

Cooking entails more than just preparing a meal. A new study has found that skilful cooking can improve people's confidence, allow them to change their eating habits, and boost their mental and general health.

The research published in Frontiers in Nutrition measured the effect of a seven-day cooking course on participants' cooking confidence, their self-perceived mental health, and their overall satisfaction with cooking and diet-related behaviours.

The researchers enrolled 493 healthy Australian adults in a cooking programme. The participants filled out a questionnaire that recorded information like BMI and dietary habits, patterns and behaviours. There were also questions on cooking confidence and satisfaction, based on cooking skills, nutrition knowledge, household food spending and eating behaviours.

The researchers asked the participants if they were confident about: 

1. Being able to cook from basic ingredients

2. Following a simple recipe

3. Preparing and cooking new foods and recipes

4. Their cooking efforts "turning out well"

5. Tasting unfamiliar foods 

Better physical and mental health

The researchers found that people who participated in the programme had significant improvements in general health, mental health and subjective vitality immediately after the programme. The effects were still seen six months after completing the course, compared to a control group.

The study results show that increased self-confidence about being able to create a healthy meal from scratch may have a positive influence on dietary habits and the ability to cook meals from scratch.

"These findings highlight the value of building cooking confidence, using basic ingredients, which could foster healthier eating habits and reduce the need to rely on highly processed foods in home cooking," the study states.

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