by Victoria Brewster, MSW – SJS Staff Writer in Canada
One of my friends who has an MSW degree began a group this fall that focuses on Therapeutic Cooking with adults with Mental Health Issues. It is very new, little research has been conducted, but already the benefits can be seen.
A group of individuals, age does not matter and diagnosis does not matter. The focus is on socializing, learning to cook together, learning about food, the health benefits of food, how to shop for food, how to cook, how food affects your mood and the results; eating together as a group and the satisfaction of having cooked a healthy meal.
For individuals who are alone, perhaps are in a lower economic bracket, financially they may not be able to buy quality vegetables, fruit, meat or fish. Also, many adults who live alone do not cook a big meal for themself or may not know how to cook at all.
The research I have conducted focuses on Therapeutic cooking from an Occupational viewpoint such as one recovering from a stroke or other neurological illness/disease or physical disability.
“Cooking has therapeutic value physically, cognitively, socially and intrapersonally. Physically, cooking requires good movement in shoulders, fingers, wrists, elbow, neck, as well as good overall balance. Adequate muscle strength is needed in upper limbs for lifting, mixing, cutting and chopping. Furthermore, sensory awareness is important in considering safety while dealing with hot and sharp objects.” This is the therapeutic value noted by the University of Alberta.
There is much to learn and many benefits for almost every segment and demographic in society. Food has a lot of meaning culturally, ethnically, religiously and it brings people together whether it is baking, cooking a meal, shopping for the food and certainly sitting down together and socializing.
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Great article Vikki, the benefits of cooking and food are under acknowledged so often!
Thanks Georgia! There are so many therapeutic benefits if one is to delve further……and what better way to assist people? Food s very powerful on so many different levels…..
As a social work intern I ran a group for adolescent girls in a homeless shelter. One of the activities we did was cook. I found that the girls worked together as a team, helping the cohesion of the group, they were more inclined to talk about issues because they were occupied and they learned a valuable skill. I would like to see more research on this as a modality for treatment because I think it is extrodinarily valuable and one I would like to pursue now that I’m graduating..
Kim, the group you facilitated sounds like it served it’s original purpose and beyond!
When it comes to youth and even many adults, one is more inclined to talk when they are doing another task at the same time… kids always want to talk to an adult as soon as the adult picks up the telephone.
There is limited research on this subject-therapeutic cooking from what I was able to determine, but like other complimentary or alternative therapies-I am sure that will soon change.
I once ran a cooking group for foster kids myself! Man, I sweated the knife work…but there is something so basic to making food, and the pleasure from good food is so universal..can’t deny the vale in it.
Yes, I definitely would like to hear more about recent grads and if the loans, especially for private school tuition have been worth it. Also would like to hear more about the in’s and out’s of starting up your own business as an OT.