Mindful Cooking: How to Become a Master of It
How are your cooking habits and styles? Where is your mind when you are preparing your meals for your friends, your loved ones, and yourself? Is your body physically there, but your mind wandering off on the next bills to pay or what you are going to watch on TV later?
Mindful cooking can be an amazing experience of being fully present in the kitchen, rather than being overwhelmed or stressed from the day’s activities. It is an opportunity to “train the mind, to understand what it means to be in the here and now, with a healthy sense of appreciation, patience, and a non-judgmental attitude” (1). It is a chance to slow down, practice mindfulness, and be more aware of what we are cooking and eating. How? By implementing the following tips.
1. Cook From Home, With Love
Home cooking is the best way to connect with oneself in the kitchen and in one’s home. It is an expansive step in becoming more aware of oneself as well as mindful living.
Rather than eating out or buying processed or pre-packaged food for every meal, try making at least 50% of your meals (if not more!) prepared by you, at home.
When you cook at home, you are gracing your food with your love and gratitude, simply by your touch — from picking out the collard greens, to washing the vegetables, and gently sprinkling in harmonious spices.
2. Begin with Gratitude
Always begin my cooking process with a moment of gratitude. Pull out all the foods from the refrigerator and lay them out on my counter to show off the beautiful rainbow of nutrients and foods you are about to mindfully receive.
Take a deep breath in, and as you inhale, think, visualize, or meditate the sound “love”. Begin to full the lungs from the top your chest, all the way down to the bottom of your belly. As you exhale, think, visualize, or meditate the sound “gratitude,” as you gently empty your lungs of any remaining air. Repeat for a few deep breaths.
3. Cooking is Meditation
As New York Psychotherapist, Ellen B. Kanner, Ph.D. puts it, “[mindful] cooking is its own meditation” (2). She explains that cooking is “something [you] can do to keep [your] brain from spinning like a centrifuge. It [can help you to] deal with the day-to-day crazies” and is its own form of mindfulness, as it “pleases, comforts, and nourishes the people [you] love” (2).
The act of cooking is not longer seen as a chore — but rather, a form of mindful living and meditation. Cooking has a plethora of mindful benefits that extend beyond improved nutrition and dietary choices. It can help decrease depression and anxiety, and “promotes positive mood, self-confidence, and self-esteem” (3).
4. Observe the Sights, Sounds, Smells
As you begin your cooking journey, notice the various foods that you have collected on your kitchen counter. Be aware of the wide array of beautiful colors within your food. As you chop, sauté and stir your food, “allow yourself to be 100 percent present with the different senses, rather than being lost in thought” (4). Gently listen to how each ingredient pops or crackles when you throw it into the pan, or how the pot boils with steamed vegetables.
When you take time to notice the sights, sounds and smells around your kitchen, you become more aware and mindful of what it is that you are doing — essentially an act of mindful cooking. You are no longer thinking about the past of the day, nor are you rushing through cooking so you can turn on the TV or get to your next task on your to-do list.
5. Cook with Intuition
Following a recipe is great for new ideas and inspiration, but don’t feel overwhelmed and trapped by the exact measurements of a recipe! And absolutely do not feel like you need to religiously stick to a recipe’s ingredient list.
I can’t tell you how many times I have thrown together whatever mismatched vegetables were in my fridge and made a beautiful dish full of love and gratitude.
Just because a recipe does not have a certain ingredient in it, it doesn’t mean you can’t throw it in! Only you and your body knows what it needs and craves, and, as always, you should always listen to what your Soul body craves.
As your food is gently cooking on the stove, sit back, relax, and be in the present moment — these are the mindful moments of cooking.
1. Puddicombe, A. A Short Exercise in Mindful Cooking, 2013. Available from Psychology Today.
2. Kanner, E. Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith, and What to Eat for Dinner A Satisfying Diet for Unsatisfying Times (p.14,), 2013.
3. Farmer, N., Touchton-Leonard, K., and Ross, A. Psychosocial Benefits of Cooking Interventions: A Systematic Review, 2017.
4. Headspace. Meditation In Action: 5 Tips For Mindful Cooking. Available from HuffPost Wellness.
About the author Josie Ng
Josie Ng is a certified yoga teacher, Reiki practitioner and holistic health coach in training. She helps the modern day human to become the best version of themselves — by bringing the Mind, Body, and Spirit, into happy harmony. Currently residing on the beautiful island of Hong Kong, you will often find her making friends with every stray kitty on the street, stretching at the local yoga studio, or eating her way throughout whichever country she finds herself in.
Josie writes on different health-related topics, always from the heart, with the aim to make your health journey more fun, mindful, ánd simple.