"When we’re struggling with our mental health, cooking and taking care of ourselves through food decreases because we lose our motivation"
We want to show how sharing food can be good for us and how it meets different aspects of our wellbeing.
My name’s Caroline Whiteman and I’m a Cookery Leader and Community Gardener for Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.
We are collaborating with the Recovery College to deliver a new five-week course called Cooking for Confidence.
The course is designed to enable students to gain skills and confidence cooking from scratch in a supportive and friendly environment. As part of each session we’ll sit down and eat the food we’ve prepared together.
It’s a holistic approach to cooking and eating – it’s about a balanced diet, enjoyed with others.
One of the reasons I love delivering these courses is because bringing people together around food in a practical way creates a natural cohesion in the group. With sitting down and having a meal together, comes the immediate validation of tasting food, the pleasure of food, and celebrating others’ achievements and our own.
Having spoken to people over the years through this work, I’ve found that when we’re struggling with our mental health, cooking and taking care of ourselves through food decreases because we lose our motivation. Just getting through the day can be hard enough.
The aim of this course is to demystify the process of making food and to show how simple it can be. We want to show how sharing food can be good for us and how it meets different aspects of our wellbeing. All the recipes we use are low cost and the ingredients are easy to source.
If you’re struggling with finding the motivation to cook and eat a well-balanced diet, the key is not to be overambitious but to find a launch-pad to get into the habit of cooking for yourself.
For some people, that might involve finding someone to cook with so that you can take the pressure off yourself. For others it might be finding a meal and simple recipe you’re enthusiastic about. Others might benefit from finding a local gardening group which includes a cooking activity and immediate access to the fresh ingredients grown there.
One of the best starting points is to come and do one of our courses at the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership! We also hope to run more courses with the Recovery College in the future.
Delivered as a partnership with the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the Brighton and Hove Recovery College uses education in a supportive learning environment to help people with mental health challenges become experts in their own self-care and recovery. The College provides a wide range of courses which are co-produced and co-delivered by people with lived experience of mental health challenges and are delivered in community and educational venues across Brighton and Hove.
Brighton and Hove Food Partnership is a non-profit organisation helping people learn to cook, eat a healthy diet, grow their own food and waste less food. To find out more visit the website.