Be the Change Butterfly Blog

Empowering you to manage your mental health and physical well-being naturally

Is Cooking Good for Depression?

Is Cooking Good for Depression?

Depression can hit you suddenly and stick with you for hours, days, even weeks. There's many ways to beat the blues but is cooking one of them?

Recent research has shown that the act of doing something creative, such as cooking boosts your happy hormones. The simple act of making something for yourself to eat can turn on neurons in your brain that helps relieve depression. Researchers have found that cooking helps boost self-confidence, reduces anxiety, boosts mood, and improves a person's overall well-being.

There's a lot at play when you eat a meal you have made for yourself. For example, the taste and smell of the food, the texture of the meal, how it sounds when you eat it, and how it looks on the plate touches all the senses. Additionally, having the satisfaction of knowing that you made it is enough to make you happier. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of cooking.

How Does Cooking Help with Depression?

Depression can hold you down and not let you go until you decide to do something to lift your mood. Cooking is one activity you can do to help you get out of that depressive rut.

Just the simple act of cooking alone is a good enough acitivity to fire up your dopamine receptors (happy hormones in the brain). Not only will cooking lift your mood but it will provide you with a sastifying meal you will enjoy and making you happier in the end.

When you cook you are immersing yourself in the practice of mindfulness without really trying. Mindfulness is the act of being aware of what you are doing and becoming fully present in that moment of doing. The process of cooking is a great example of mindfulness because when you cook you are mindfully selecting the ingredients, prepping those items you will be putting together, and heating and stirring at a correct temperature.

Research has shown that engaging in mindfulness based activities helps foster patience, emotional self-regulation, reduces stress, and improves an overall greater sense of peace and calm. With all these added benefits, why not cook yourself a homemade meal?

What Food is Good for Depression?

Once you realize that cooking makes you happy you're probably wondering what specific foods should you be cookinng to help reduce that depression. There's a ton of nutritional research that points to foods rich in Omega-3s, healthy fats, and a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables supports brain health.

Foods that are natural anti-depressants

According to a research study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry specific nutrients help prevent and reduce depressive symptoms. Some of these nutrients incuded certain B-vitamins, (B-12 and Folate), Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and Vitamin D. Read on to find out which foods have these nutrients:

Keep in mind this is not a definitive list. The best way to support yourself mentally via nutrition is to eat a wide sprectrum of whole foods.

Now that you know what foods you should focus on to help reduce your depression continue reading to find out what meals you can make in your kitchen.

Simple Meals to Relieve Depression

They say variety is the spice of life and that philosophy of thinking applies to relieving your depression through cooking. Simple meal planning and quick and easy is a good recipe to follow. Below are two easy recipes packed with brain boosting nutrition.

Simple Bean Salsa

Simple Bean Salsa

This bean salsa gives you folate, magnesium, and other brain boosting nutrients. This salsa mix that uses fresh ingredients can be used in a variety of ways such as over eggs, in salads, in soups, over tacos, or meat. Really, the possibilities are endless when it comes to this salsa mixture.


3 jalapenos

1 red bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

1 can of black beans

1 medium size purple onion

1 can of white navy beans

2 plum tomatoes

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

1 lime

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

sea salt (to taste)


  1. Chop all vegetables and add into a large bowl.
  2. Mix in chopped garlic and cilantro.
  3. Season with sea salt.
  4. Squeeze entire lime into salsa mix.
  5. Cover bowl with wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.
  6. Serve with chips or add onto fresh bed of spinach or kale for a salsa salad. Enjoy!

Breakfast Chia and Granola Bowl

Breakfast Chia and Granola Bowl

Start your day right with this probiotic packed brain boosting meal. If you don't know how probiotics help with your mental health check out this article here.

This recipe can be made ahead of time and can be a grab and go type of breakfast to keep you energized throughout your busy morning schedule. It is packed with B Vitamins, Omega-3s, and magnesium.


1/2 cup of greek yogurt

1/2 cup of dried granola cereal that has no dried fruit

1/4 cup fresh berries (blueberries are a great choice)

1 teaspoons of chia seeds

1/2 cup of water


  1. Place chia seeds and water in a small bowl and let sit for at least an hour to hydrate the chia seeds.
  2. Stir hydrated chia seeds in yogurt and place in refrigerator over night.
  3. Put granola in a serving bowl and add yogurt chia mixture on top.
  4. Add berries and enjoy.

Other Ways to Beat Depression

Cooking isn't the only activity you can engage in to relieve your depression. Any activity that keeps your mind focused on creating something is a great way to beat the blues.

Taking up a hobby such as wood working, knitting, painting rocks, or upcycling are some examples you can explore to peak your mental interest and boost your mood.

If you can't find an activity that keeps you out of your rut then another way to relieve your depression is to talk to a professional mental health counselor.  There are many options to choose from and you will want to see your insurance provider to find out what is covered for mental health treatment. There's also online therapy platforms available as well. Betterhelp and Talkspace are just two platforms you can use for online therapy.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.)

National Suicide Prevention Line

If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Help is available 24/7 in English and Spanish.