Cooking mindfully at the PERFORM Centre

Classes aim to make cooking nutritious and delicious meals part of healthy lifestyle
February 6, 2013
By Christian Durand

We all know that eating wholesome meals promotes a healthy lifestyle. But the frenetic pace of modern life leaves many of us too time-strapped to integrate healthful cooking into our schedules..

Concordia’s PERFORM Centre – dedicated to improving health through prevention – has recently developed its Healthy Cooking class to address this issue. Designed to be as good for the wallet as it is for the waistline, the Healthy Cooking class is one of a growing number of community programs aimed at improving health through lifestyle management.

PERFORM dietitian Théa Demmers leads the centre’s first Healthy Cooking class on January 31. | Photo by Concordia University

Led by the centre’s professional dietitian, Théa Demmers, these dynamic classes were created to teach participants how to cook wholesome and affordable meals that also happen to taste great.

Workshops equip participants to make healthy food choices by introducing them to nutritious ingredient alternatives that can easily be integrated into meal planning. “In our first class we looked at how to choose fats that promote our health,” explains Demmers. “This means cooking with flax, lentils and tofu as substitutes to always using meat. Not only do these grains and meat alternatives provide protein or omega-3, they are cheaper than meat products.”

Classes take place in the PERFORM Centre’s state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, which is equipped with modern cooking stations. Workshops begin with an educational session that examines the nutritional elements of the food being prepared. Participants then cook the meal with the help of the PERFORM dietitian. Once finished, participants eat what they have created while discussing what they have learned.

Like all community programs offered at PERFORM, Healthy Cooking educates participants on how to modify behaviour to ensure long-term success. According to Demmers, this means learning how to eat and prepare food mindfully. “Mindful eating requires re-engineering our eating patterns and food environment. Research demonstrates that if people are educated on the ingredients they put in their food and if they plan their meals accordingly, this will lead to a greater enjoyment of what they consume because cooking becomes less stressful.”

Being prepared is one of the important cornerstones of mindful cooking. “I encourage participants to do simple things like stocking up on ingredients so that they are always able to make healthy meals,” says Demmers. “We also focus on taking the time to plan meals for the week. Research shows that planning is one of the biggest contributing factors in eating balanced meals.”

Demmers stresses the importance of slowing down when it comes to cooking and eating. “A big part of re-engineering how we eat is to take the time to appreciate the process. Observing how flavours come together while cooking and taking the time to really taste what we make increases our dietary awareness. With mindfulness comes the ability to make choices that will have positive long-term effects on your health.”

Healthy Cooking at PERFORM costs $50 plus tax per class (food included) and is open to students, staff and faculty as well as the general public. Sessions last three hours and will be offered in February, March and April.

Related links:
•    Healthy Cooking at PERFORM
•    PERFORM Centre

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