Real Bread: These are the wellbeing benefits of baking your own loaf
By Ella Walker. Published 2020-07-28BOLD-Food
Baking your own bread can be both calming and good for you
Baking bread can help relieve stress“We find people saying, ‘I find bread-making really helps me’,” says Young. “Whether that’s just as something to take your mind off the stresses of work, you can just get in there – and gently massage the dough in some cases, and in others, punch the living daylights out of it – in one way or another, they find it therapeutic.”In 2017, the Real Bread Campaign ran a short pilot project with the occupational therapy team at Bethlem Royal Hospital, London, and found that bread-making really can make people feel calmer and more relaxed.
It offers a sense of achievement“People feel a sense of achievement, taking just those three or four quite boring, basic ingredients – a mouthful of flour is nothing particularly special – and it’s alchemy, turning it into something magical,” says Young.“Even the ugliest loaf, you go, ‘Yeah but I still made that’, and as people get better at it, you can then start giving those loaves to other people, it’s a gift from the heart.”
Baking can increase self-worthAs well as the joy and value to be found in baking bread to share with others, just the act of committing to creating a loaf can be beneficial.For instance, the Better Health Bakery in East London, a social enterprise that’s part of mental health charity The Centre for Better Health, offers trainee bakery placements to adults recovering from mental ill health. Young says it provides a space where “people who are working through, or getting over periods of mental ill health, are able to turn up and say, ‘I can do something, I have achieved this at the end of the day, I have worked a shift, I have created something, and other people are validating that’.”
It provides an opportunity for socialisingTaking part in enterprises like the Better Health Bakery, or projects like local bread making groups, also gives people a chance to socialise and meet others who might be experiencing similar things, whether that’s mental ill health, loss, loneliness, or coping with older age.“The idea is to bring people together, ostensibly to learn how to cook,” notes Young, “and one of the simplest things you can do is bake a loaf, but at the same time, that offers a peer support group.”
And even employmentThere are also bakeries offering “employment opportunities for people who have maybe, for one reason or another, found it hard to find their place in the workforce”, Young adds. Take the Freedom Bakery in Glasgow, which trains prisoners on day release, and aims to hire trainees on their eventual release.“Beyond the value of, ‘This is delicious’, it’s that validation of someone saying, ‘I value it so much, I’m going to pay £4 for a loaf’,” says Young.Whether you sell your loaves or not, it’s the “act of creating something real and tangible and delicious” that’s often most empowering and important.
Boldie Links-- Find out more about Real Bread at realbreadcampaign.org and follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
We think you'll also enjoy
Here’s why baking bread can be good for your mental health
TheBoldAge discovers that the key to happiness might just be at the bottom of a loaf tin.By Sophie Goodall, 2020-05-18
5 health benefits of switching to rye bread
If your morning toast’s getting old, or you’re in the mood for a health kick, rye bread could be the answerBy Max Freeman-Mills, 2020-05-25