August 20, 2013
BAKE MORE (I HAVE THREE KIDS):Can baking make you happier? (Farhana Dawood, 8/19/13, BBC News)
East London NHS Foundation Trust is one mental health provider that has experimented in cooking therapies. Earlier this year they launched Recipes of Life, an integrated talking therapy with healthy cooking and eating sessions.Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2013 3:08 PM
Dr Mark Salter, a consultant psychiatrist working in east London, says baking and cooking are good occupational therapies that help patients develop planning skills, short term memory and social skills - all of which suffer in mental illness. He says baking is particularly powerful because of its symbolism in our culture - associated with nurture and goodness.
But Dr Cosmo Hallstrom, fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, cautions that it is difficult to measure the precise benefits of baking as a therapy.
"Any structured non-stressful activity will help depression and increase well-being. Traditional occupational therapies generally work on a physical or projection platform.
"For example, exercise sessions increase physical well-being and release endorphins that combat depression. Art therapy helps a patient project their depression through creating artwork; thereby helping a patient to better understand their condition. Baking can be seen as operating on both these platforms," he says.
There is a physical element to baking - kneading the dough or cutting out cookie shapes. But there is also a strong creative or artistic component - the intricate decoration of cakes or biscuits.