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Food is Medicine, Cooking is Therapy

Full cooking ingredient cuisine kitchen
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Physicians learning cooking therapy with Chef/LCSW
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Food is Medicine, Cooking is Therapy – A Proposal by Michelle Tobin, LCSW and Elise D’Haene, Ph.D

Cooking Therapy is a hands-on expressive therapy instructed by a mental health professional and chef that combines cooking and cooking-related activities with psychological theory and techniques geared toward wellness. Cooking therapy is a prevention-based, multi-faceted approach that includes outreach, teaching, and hands-on learning, which connects lifestyle choices to mental health.  Information about mental health issues and services is provided during cooking demonstrations. The aim of the program is to increase awareness about mental health and addiction issues, access to services, and the power of food choices and cooking in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

Cooking Therapy is a proactive approach to mental health.  It is a non-threatening and affordable way to reach people who would not otherwise seek mental health services.  Classes introduce therapeutic principles alongside meal preparation.  Recent research has indicated that eating healthy foods is not enough to mitigate the negative effects of stress.  Cooking Therapy teaches mindfulness and relaxation techniques through the act/art of cooking nutritious meals in order to optimize the benefit of healthy ingredients.

Cooking Therapy is a flexible approach, which can be adapted to meet the needs of the community.  Originally developed for a university setting to teach students about healthy food choices and the benefits of preparing their own meals alongside other wellness techniques, cooking therapy has since been adapted to teach physicians how to address mental health concerns with their patients.  Classes for medical professionals address mental health issues for which they are often the first line of defense as most people go to their family physician for help before they consider seeking help from a therapist.  Sample classes include: Patient Pantry: Affordable suggestions for making cooking at home easier; Food & Mood: Assessing for and treating depression; and, Nourishing Recovery: Cooking with healthy ingredients to ease symptoms during recovery from drugs and alcohol. The goal of teaching doctors to cook healthy meals will be to send them into the community to partner with a chef to teach free classes to underserved populations.

Cooking Therapy expands upon existing approaches to therapy and increases public awareness about the services that are available and reduces stigma.  Cooking Therapy adds to the toolbox of modalities that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. The chef/therapist can partner with other experts in the health and education fields to provide up-to-date information on nutrition, medicine, and psychopharmacology.  

Cooking Therapy is portable. It can be taught wherever kitchen space is available—in homes, churches, synagogues, community centers, and schools.


Submitted

Nov 16 2016

Organization Type

Nonprofit

Challenge

Healthy Food

Product Name

Cooking Therapy

Product Stage

Concept

Team

Contact this team about Funding, Collaboration or other methods of support. Contact Team


27 Comments

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Elizabeth Roberge

11 months ago

A creative approach to stress and the mental/physical health issues which inundate our nation.
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Gerard Barron

11 months ago

Excellent idea - a very elegant and flexible approach.
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Sue Gushie

11 months ago

Wonderful concept and so applicable to our daily lives. All the best!
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Jeff

11 months ago

This is such an original idea - and you are the perfect person to combine these two specialties!
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Bethany Brun

11 months ago

Such a great idea, Michelle! There are so many awesome ways this can help - well body, well soul!
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Renee patton

11 months ago

Awesome idea! Michelle is a great therapist and cook!☺️
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Jim Breckenridge

11 months ago

A wonderful idea and concept.
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Beth Gylys

11 months ago

Love this idea, Michelle!
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Ruth

11 months ago

Proactive approach to mental health sounds good to me. Sounds like a great project!
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Robin

11 months ago

Sounds like a great project!
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Amy Burnap

11 months ago

I love this idea! If it was available in my area I would definitely sign up.
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Joan Keith

11 months ago

I love everything about this idea. It couldn't be more true that cooking together and intake of good nutrition helps mental wellness and relationships
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Miriam B O'sullivan

11 months ago

Great idea!
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Sue martin

11 months ago

I love this idea! So innovative and practical. I wish this was a available when I was in college.
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Elise

11 months ago

So excited about this most worthwhile and needed project.
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Kathy

11 months ago

So very proud of you!!!
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Carmel Keith

11 months ago

I wish you every success Michelle
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Irene McCabe

11 months ago

I'd sign up in a second. What a brilliant idea that could impact so many--including kids.
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Colin Hurley

11 months ago

Love it!
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Jenell Patton

11 months ago

A brilliant approach to counteract our fast food culture!
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Leslie Poole Petit

11 months ago

Innovative and on cutting edge! Congratulations!
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Bonnie Lyden

11 months ago

An incredible idea with so many applications. I can personally attest to Michelle's Irish soda bread. Simply the best.
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Michael Lyden

11 months ago

Very versatile and a great venue! Wonderful idea.
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Gregory Coppola

11 months ago

Innovative and very timely ideas. We need this now more than ever. Can you imagine teaching medical students how to cook? They could actually tell their patients concrete information like trying lemon juice instead of reaching for the salt. Empowering others with this type of practical information is missing but so needed in healthcare today. Food is truly medicine.
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Anne Flynn Schlicht

11 months ago

Great way to draw awareness to mental health issues and much needed in today's society.
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Carol Dombrowski Chapman

11 months ago

Having dealt with PTSD my whole life, depression takes your appetite plus living alone creates an atmosphere of "I don't feel like cooking". Hence goes a nourishing and healthy lifestyle. I love your approach and would love this to be available. Thank you.
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Merry

11 months ago

Love this idea!!

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