3 Sweet Benefits Of Baking For Others


Most of you probably know someone who expresses themselves through baking. Any event is an excuse to whip up something sweet. Holiday? You know you're getting cookies. Friend in the hospital? Oh, there will be brownies. But did you know that this drive to bake has a basis in human psychology? Baking offers a host of benefits, and it explains why The Joy of Baking is not just the most popular bakebook in America since 1986. It's also a state of mind.

Baking is a good thing for a lot of reasons. Here are just three:

1. Baking is a productive form of communication.

“Baking has the benefit of allowing people creative expression,” Donna Pincus, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, told HuffPost. “There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall well-being. Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”

When doing it for other people, baking can also be a way to communicate one’s feelings when verbalizing is difficult. The ritual of bringing of food to someone after the death of a loved one is an example of how people use the culinary arts to express feelings. As Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts, told HuffPost, “It can be helpful for people who have difficulty expressing their feelings in words to show thanks, appreciation or sympathy with baked goods.”

2. Baking is a stress release.

Stress is related to a host of mental and physical problems, and finding ways to cope with that stress is important for leading a healthy life. John Whaite, the baker who won “The Great British Bake Off” in 2012, has publicly said that baking has been a help for him dealing with his manic depression.

Why is baking so therapeutic? It is a productive act that fully engages whoever is doing it. The process of creating something that brings joy to others keeps the mind occupied with positive thoughts focused on a positive outcome. Julie Ohana, a licensed clinical social worker and culinary art therapist says, "Baking is thinking step-by-step and following the specifics of the here and now, but it’s also thinking about recipes as a whole, the dish as a whole, what are going to do with it, who it’s going to, what time are you sharing it, so baking is a really good way of developing that balance of the moment and the bigger picture.”

3. Baking for others feels good.

We all know it feels good to give. Giving not only makes us feel connected to others, it also increases our feeling of well-being by giving us a sense of purpose. Studies have shown that baking for others is a selfless act that has emotional benefits for the giver. Professor Whitbourne states, “There is also a symbolic value in baking for others because food has both physical and emotional significance,” says Whitbourne. “The most benefits would accrue when you bake not to seek attention or to out-do others, but when you just want to share the food with people who you believe will appreciate it.”

It kind of makes you wonder who gets more out of delicious baked goods after all.

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