Well Being

Counseling Sessions Held Inside A Kitchen May Change Your Mind About Therapy

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Stock Photo of Woman Baking A Cake

Whether comfort food to you is a buffalo chicken pizza on movie night, a stack of BBQ ribs at a southern-style restaurant or an entire-tub-in-one-sitting of ice cream after a bad break up, a new study shows they’d be a whole lot more helpful if you considered cooking them yourself. Apparently, baking can be as therapeutic as visiting a shrink — well, almost.

According to the Wall Street Journal, counselors and health care professionals are now using “cooking or baking as therapy tools” for people suffering from mental health problems like depression and anxiety. So maybe the answer to that question you’ve been asking is, yes: maybe cake can solve all your problems!

Cooking classes ‘prescribed’ by therapists are typically held at local culinary schools, teach healthy cooking and eating skills and are recommend for people living “tough, chaotic lives.” By enrolling and learning the ins and outs of the kitchen, counselors say the classes can help soothe stress, build self-esteem, and curb negative thoughts by instead focusing on the recipe at hand.

Usually, the classes are part of a larger treatment plan that also includes talking to a therapist, or medication. But hey, if you’re going to have to tell a stranger all of your problems, you might as well as get something sweet out of it yourself–like a cake. Or brisket!

Cooking and baking are therapeutic because they fit a type of therapy known as “behavioral activation,” according to psychologists. By focusing on a main goal—like, say, your finished casserole—and eliminating procrastination, these activities help alleviate depression. When the oven timer goes off, the baker feels rewarded and accomplished, especially if they’re sharing the food with others! One study even revealed that baking classes boost confidence, and increase concentration.

The one downside to all this? Quite frankly, it could make you fat. If patients don’t stick to cooking healthy foods, or forget about portion control, all that progress could lose to weight gain. Since obesity has been found to increase the risk of depression, this is kind of a big deal.

I guess you’ll have to stick to baking low-carb carbs, or something from the Weight Watchers manual, which makes this whole idea much less appealing. Or perhaps you can make healthy meals for the week on Sunday nights, cook for your neighbors, and start hosting more dinner parties…heck, you could even volunteer at a soup kitchen! The possibilities are endless.

In any event, the next time you bake anything, whether it be a cake, a healthy stir-fry or brownies, lick your lips and tell your kitchen, “I’m doing this for me.”

(Image via Shutterstock)

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