This eating habit will make you happier and healthier, says a new study: Eat this, not that

The world is a pretty stressful place right now, so it’s vital that we take particular care of our mental and physical health. Whether it’s through exercise, better sleep, or forming a self-care routine, it’s important to find a habit that makes you feel energetic and happy, and there are many healthy habits to choose from. A new study has found that getting into the habit of cooking at home will not only make you feel happier, but it will also make you feel healthier.

This is suggested by a recent study by Edith Cowan University (ECU). Confidence in the kitchen is your sign of good mental health, with the added bonus of cooking delicious meals in your own kitchen.

For the study, ECU partnered with The Good Foundation and Jamie’s Ministry of Food initiative, providing cooking classes to the community. A total of 657 participants engaged in the seven-week healthy cooking class.

During the program, academics from the ECU Institute for Nutrition Research measured the effect of the program on both participants’ confidence in the kitchen and their mental health. They also looked at their overall satisfaction with cooking and diet-related behaviors.

The researchers found that those who participated in the program saw great improvements in general health, mental health, and subjective vitality (the state of feeling alive and alert) immediately following the program.

Good home cooking

Not only were there improvements in the participants’ general moods, but there was also an increase in confidence in the kitchen and the ability to easily change eating habits and overcome lifestyle barriers to healthy eating.

“Improving the quality of people’s diets can be a preventative strategy to stop or slow the rise in poor mental health, obesity and other metabolic health disorders,” said lead researcher Dr Joanna Rees in the study overview.

However, the quality of the food doesn’t actually have that big impact on your mental health. The study also showed that participants’ mental health improved even though the quality of their food was not sustainable. The mental health benefits were equal among overweight or obese participants compared to those in a healthy weight range.

While the study showed an overall positivity rate, 77 percent of participants who identified as female said they were safe to cook, while 23 percent identified as male.

“This shift in confidence could lead to a shift in the home food environment by reducing gender bias and leading to gender balance in home cooking,” said Dr Rees. “This, in turn, can help overcome some of the barriers presented by not knowing how to cook, such as easing the time constraints that can lead to high energy but low nutritional value ready meals.”

If you’re looking to become a culinary wizard in your kitchen and don’t know where to start, try getting started with these 50 healthy recipes to make in 10 minutes (or less).

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