November 18, 2014

Mindful Cooking

by Taylor Viggiano '17

 Taylor Viggiano is a sophomore pursuing an independent concentration centered around nutrition and food’s ability to act as medicine within the body. She is a participant in this year’s TRILab course on Healthy Food Access.

My body was screaming, “help me,” but my mind couldn’t hear past thoughts of upcoming exams and due dates.

It wasn’t until the last trimester of senior year of high school that I could finally hear it.

It was the first time in a very long time that I was able to take time for myself and reconnect with my mind and body.  I’d been sleep-deprived, stressed, and living off of crap for so long that I didn’t recognize how poorly I was feeling.

I began to take control of and learn more about what I put in my body. Seeking out recipes to experiment with, I took over cooking dinner for my family (a task my Mom was all too willing to relinquish) and began delving further into the world of food. I tried it all, from cauliflower and quinoa-based pizzas to sweet potato gnocchi to shaved Brussel sprouts with garlic aioli.  Even through the cooking failures, I began feeling the rewards in my mental and physical health.

Cooking allowed me to care not only for my own health, but for that of my family as well. It became my mental therapy, allowing me relaxation. It became a source of pride. It became a way to show love for myself and others.

Cooking empowered me to take charge of my health, and my hope is that it can empower others as well.

As part of Professor Mary Flynn’s “Food is Medicine,” group, we have begun drafting a proposal to create a cooking program for youth 10-13 years old with type two diabetes.  We are using affordable, nutritious, and delicious recipes to show that cooking can be stress-free and easy for all ages and lifestyles. Additionally, we will be supplementing the cooking with an educational portion, so that our little chefs can start their own healthy experiments.

By focusing this program on American youth, who now account for one out of every three cases of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, we decrease their risk factors for chronic diseases and empower them to take control of their health and their future.

I think it’s as simple as this: when you eat well, you feel good.

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