Mindful Cooking and its Healing Capabilities


CMN believes in multi-dimensional approach to cancer treatment; we firmly stand by the idea that our treatments should increase your overall quality of life, not just simply attack the cancer cells. As such, we take great care in providing you with non-traditional ways in which you can incorporate healing into your daily life. Today we are going to discuss mindful cooking, and how it can increase the overall quality of your life.

Cooking versus Mindful Cooking

We all have to eat, and many of us also have to provide food for others to eat. This means we often spend time in the kitchen at least once or twice a day. How often do you find yourself cooking, or reheating leftovers, and it feels like a chore? So often, our minds are elsewhere – thinking about what we have to do tomorrow, what we need to be doing right now, and on a million other tasks. Rarely do we take the time to think about food and the preparation that goes into making our means in a mindful fashion.

Mindfulness has been scientifically found to positively change the brain’s composition. By this, “MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.”[1] As such, incorporating mindfulness into what is often viewed as a ‘necessary task’ or ‘chore’ has the power to help you enjoy the moment more, as well as reach far past the moment you finish doing the dishes. 

How Mindful Cooking Matters

  • Mindful cooking helps you focus on what you’re putting into your body.

Making a pact to stay mindful throughout your time in the kitchen has the potential to influence what you are cooking. Homemade food, especially meals made from scratch, are fully controllable by you: what ingredients will you use? You have the power to make substitutions based on your personal dietary preferences, such as eliminating nuts if you are allergic. You can also use this mindful practice to make sure you are creating a dish that will meet your everyday needs: does this dish have enough Vitamin C? Could I add a splash of milk, which is rich in calcium? Your body is a machine, and staying mindful will help to ensure you are doing everything in your power to make sure it is getting the vitamins and nutrients that it needs.

  • It’s an opportunity to include others.

CMN firmly believes in the power of your cancer community – the loved ones that support you throughout your journey – and mindful cooking can help you to engage with them on a deeper level. Cooking can be greatly intimate, as you are providing for another, and it can also serve as a bonding activity where you share tasks and split up the steps involved in the dish. Making a conscious effort to include someone else, rather than going through the motions on your own, can open you up to creating a new memory with someone you hold dear to your heart. Some people report that this helps them to feel like they are nurturing others, or providing them with a nonmaterialistic gift.[2] By embracing other people while you cook, you allow yourself time to communicate, love, and laugh– all of which can potentially make your day, and last much longer than the time it takes to cook the meal.

  • Mindful cooking can help you be creative and free.

When you are taking the time to focus on what you are creating, you’re paying attention to each ingredient, as well as your reactions: how do the herbs smell? Is this tomato ripe? How tender is the pasta? You aren’t just following the recipe; you are free to elaborate, improvise, and make adjustments that you see fit. Do you want to throw in some of the fresh cilantro that you picked up at the store earlier? Go for it! Maybe you want to bake the dish a little longer, allowing the flavors to marinate longer, letting the aroma fill your home. You are in control, and this is your opportunity to shine! Cooking is so much more than something you have to do; it is an opportunity to be truly and wholeheartedly creative. You may not have time to pick up a new hobby, but you are absolutely allowed (and encouraged!) to make the most of the time you spend in the kitchen. Cultivate your personal taste; learn about different herbs and how they influence a dish, and always remember to add a cup of your love and strength!

To Learn More 

Mindful cooking is a great twist on an otherwise basic task that you can incorporate into your everyday life. It may not have the power to fight cancer medically, but it is a powerful medicine in that it can help you in being present in the moment, express gratitudefor your ability to provide yourself with a home-cooked meal rich in nutrientsand vitamins, and spend time with your loved ones. Choosing to be mindful is a powerful choice that you can make daily; you are fully in control and deserve to celebrate that! To learn more about staying mindful, or the mental and emotional support activities that CMN provides, click here or email us at info@cmnact.com.

[1]Ireland, Tom. “What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?” Scientific American.2014.

[2]“Are You Missing Out on Mindful Cooking?” Summer Tomato.2016.

CMN Hospital