Mental health and mental health concerns are part of a crisis that is sweeping the world by storm. Especially with the rise of international lockdowns and self-isolation that left many feeling alone. It is something that is becoming ever more common amongst society and something that is being spoken about and recognised by everyone both young and old. This blog has been written to hopefully highlight and raise awareness about a topic that can affect everyone and reveal how the power of cooking and eating great tasting food can positively impact one’s mental health.
What is Mental Health?
So now let’s look at what ‘mental health’ is and what it can look like for different people. Firstly, it’s important to understand that everyone has mental health the same way everyone also has physical health. It is simply just a spectrum where one can fall ill or sometimes feel poorly and this is often referred to as ‘mental illness’. It has been proven that at least 50% of the world population will have a diagnosable mental disorder at some point within their lifetime which suggests that it is something that is more common than we think.
Mental health issues can look different for everyone and can vary based on the mental diagnosis, but common early signs can include excessive worrying, lack of concentration, withdrawal from friends and activities and an overly low mood. While this is rather negative, there are loads of positive things that can be done to help and improve this state, and that’s where good food gets involved.
What things can be done to make yourself feel better?
As we have just highlighted, poor mental health is something that is commonly experienced by many and so it is important that we understand ways that we can make ourselves feel better. When feeling low, it is important to express yourself and talk about how you’re feeling. This can help you to stay in a good mental state by giving you a release for any pent-up emotion. There are other ways to express yourself and this can include staying active. This doesn’t just mean going to the gym although this type of sport can be rewarding, it can also involve going for walks, gardening or housework as these things are all said to improve your mood. Some may prefer to eat well, take a break and practice self-care or do something that they really enjoy doing. Essentially all these things will help you feel better by boosting the levels of serotonin and dopamine present in your system.
Why can cooking contribute to a healthier mind?
Now onto our favourite and most tasty activity that is certain to lift anyone’s mood. This is all about cooking and eating wonderful meals. For many people the process of cooking can be daunting as it is something that you may be unfamiliar with or time consuming, and so it can be a challenging task. But really it can be quite a fun and rewarding thing to do once you have got the basics.
Firstly, cooking can give you a feeling of accomplishment because when cooking for yourself or others you are setting yourself an achievable goal that can be quite rewarding once completed.
Cooking is also a great activity because it allows you to exercise your creativity. You can be creative and imaginative with ingredients, spices and different cooking techniques. Experimenting in the kitchen is always fun!
Also cooking can help to teach important life lessons, like that of patience. Cooking at home can require patience along a period of different steps as you often must take your time with different processes and eventually wait for the finished product. While waiting isn’t always fun, in this case, patience truly is a virtue. Yum!
Creating wonderful dishes is also a beautiful way to connect with others. Cooking for others can act as a good booster for your self-esteem as it is something that you can take pride in. It can also be a great opportunity to communicate with others and bond over a love for great food. Food really does bring people together!
And lastly, it allows you an opportunity to become healthier. Planning and prepping your meals will make it easier for you to use healthier and more natural ingredients. Therefore, it’s very effective and like exercise, your dopamine and serotonin levels will tend to be higher as a result.
It’s fair to say that something positive always comes out of eating and cooking great food!
How can African Plate help you on this food journey?
Here at African Plate, we can help when it comes to creating great tasting food.
Our vast range of African snacks, spices and herbs are the perfect addition to any meal. They are all natural and ethically sourced and consist of low amounts of sodium and absolutely no MSG. So, you can enjoy it without any fears.
African Plate meals are too good, not to share!
African Plate Recommends……
Now here are our top dishes that you should try making:
- Efo Riro. Using our authentic crayfish, Ewedu, Locust Beans, Ami spice and Cameroon pepper.
- Chicken stew with our pepper soup mix.
- Flavoursome Suya with our ‘suya spice blend’.
- Egusi for flavour and nourishment using our Egusi seeds.
- And either Jollof rice or Fried rice. It’s up to you!
Also, for those days where you just want a cheeky snack that you don’t have to cook. Why not try our meaty kilishi snack or our sweet Crunchies? These are certain to uplift your mood.
In summary, Mental health problems and a low mood are something that we may all experience from time to time, and so it’s more important than ever to be kind, take care of yourself and eat well.
Let us know what your favourite self-care activity is below in the comments?
Love from African Plate x
(Written By Nayana Mena)