As the Director of Globaltic, my journey takes me through the exciting and diverse world of food every day. A recent partnership with the Burnt Chef Project, an organisation committed to improving mental health within the hospitality sector, led to a fascinating discovery – the mental health benefits associated with charcoal grilling.
We often perceive charcoal as a simple method to cook our food, adding that distinctive smoky taste. However, there's more to this traditional cooking style than meets the eye - it has a profound, yet underexplored, effect on our mental wellbeing that extends beyond the confines of the kitchen. Charcoal grilling is far more than just a cooking method. It's a therapeutic, mindful practice that draws us into the present moment. When we focus on the fire, arrange the coals, and monitor the cooking process, we create a temporary sanctuary, a refuge from the noise and stress of our daily lives.
But how does charcoal grilling actually influence our health?
- A piece of research published in the Journal of Health Psychology (2017) revealed that immersion in cyclic tasks can reduce stress and anxiety. This evidence supports the idea that charcoal grilling can serve as a therapeutic, meditative activity. The repetitive, rhythmical nature of grilling, much like activities such as gardening or painting, encourages a state of flow - a psychological state linked to happiness and a reduction in negative mental health outcomes
- One of the most appealing aspects of grilling is its inherently social character. We often grill in the company of friends and family, creating an opportunity for valuable social interaction. It's well-known, and substantiated by research, that strong social connections can protect against a range of mental health problems. A report by the Mental Health Foundation highlights that robust social relationships can help lower the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
- Charcoal grilling offers us an opportunity to reconnect with nature. Cooking outdoors, under the sky and standing on the earth, can be a profoundly grounding experience. The positive impact of nature on mental health is increasingly recognised in scientific literature, with a 2013 study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology indicating that time spent in natural environments can significantly reduce stress levels and boost mood.
Our collaboration with the Burnt Chef Project goes beyond merely crafting a high-quality product. It aims to highlight the multidimensional benefits of grilling, particularly in relation to mental wellbeing. The concept of grilling as a tool for mental health opens up a new perspective on wellness within the hospitality industry and beyond. Charcoal grilling doesn't just result in delicious food; it promotes mindfulness, encourages social connections, and strengthens our bond with nature – all while challenging the stigma associated with mental health. I hope our collaboration with the Burnt Chef project will be one more step for helping the UK’s hospitality industry with tackling mental health stigma
We're not just stoking the fire for cooking; we're also fueling a vital conversation on mental health. We can all benefit from embracing the process of charcoal grilling, not only for the mouth-watering meals it produces, but also for the serenity and mental peace it helps cultivate.
As we continue our journey with the Burnt Chef Project, it's evident that our love for grilling isn't confined to the tantalising dishes it creates. It also provides a unique, yet powerful, approach to fostering mental wellbeing.
So, the next time you stand before a grill, remember – it's not only about what you're creating on the grill, but also what you're nurturing within yourself.
It's indeed possible that the path to mental wellness might just be through the comforting warmth of your backyard grill. So, the next time you stand before a grill, remember – it's not only about what you're creating on the grill, but also what you're nurturing within yourself. Happy grilling!