“At a certain point in the late middle of my life I made the unexpected but happy discovery that the answer to several of the questions that most occupied me was in face one and the same. Cook.” Michael Pollan, Cooked. Cooking should not be seen as a trouble, but more of a reward. Having the opportunity to cook can change someone’s entire outlook on life. You never truly know how good you have something until it’s gone. I’m sure you have heard that saying before. Sometimes we tend to take advantage of the things that come easily to us. Cooking is amongst these things.
For those individuals who are living with physical or cognitive disabilities, preparing meals often becomes an activity that is dependent on others. Occupational therapists work to help their clients achieve independence in their everyday lives. One way they help clients gain independence, is with cooking interventions. They teach clients to learn to cook with adaptive tools, compensatory strategies, and other useful tools. Achieving independence in cooking is extremely fulfilling. Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 ways can improve your quality of life:
Gives you purpose
Having the ability to cook for oneself and others is a rewarding experience. You do not have to be an experienced chef to create delicious meals. In fact, there are numerous other resources available to learn how to cook. Preparing a meal provides individuals with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Being able to put together something edible is truly all it takes to feel purpose.
Saves you money
Cooking meals at home can save you tons of money each month. Stocking up on kitchen staples and buying bulk items is an easy way to prevent spending money on take-out and restaurant dining. Saving money in this way will allow you to save up for more important things. Perhaps you want to take a trip or pay off debt. Cooking your own meals will help you achieve these goals, thus contributing to a higher level of satisfaction.
Keeps you healthy
One of the most important ways cooking can improve your quality of life, is by keeping you healthy. Cooking for yourself allows you to choose the ingredients you put into your meals and therefore helps you to make healthier decisions. Eating healthy is one of the most important lifestyle choices you can make for yourself. This is especially true for individuals living with any limitation or disability and for those who would like to prevent future diseases or disabilities.
Cooking and baking with others is a wonderful bonding experience. I’ve always enjoyed cooking with my mom and grandmothers during the holidays and cooking omelets alongside my dad on weekend mornings. As an occupational therapist, I love cooking with my clients and can truly see the joy it brings them. Cooking with loved ones or in groups can help build and strengthen relationships. It is an effective way to build teamwork and improve communication.
From an OT perspective, cooking is considered an IADL (Instrumental Activity of Daily Living) and often incorporated into an individual’s plan of care. Participation in cooking helps a client with physical limitations or cognitive decline relearn skills or learn new ones. Physically, cooking can help improve skills such as balance, upper and lower body strength, coordination, and proprioception. Cooking can be adapted in so many ways to help achieve one’s goals. Family is often involved in treatment sessions so they can enhance carryover of these skills and optimize effectiveness. Cooking can also be used as a coping skill to relieve stress or depression.
Don’t let your or your loved one’s limitation prevent you from participation in cooking. There are various ways to adapt a kitchen and tools for optimal use for your or your loved one’s unique needs. There are so many benefits that cooking provides, but most importantly it can bring you joy and improve your quality of life.
Stay tuned for more educational tips, guides, and nutritious recipes coming your way! J
Pollan, Michael. Cooked. New York: Penguin Press, 2013. Print.