Preparing Christmas Dinner can be a daunting task for anyone who isn’t confident in the kitchen, but if you have MS there are extra challenges. Emily Carey, a Specialist Social Worker in Leeds, has spent the last 13 years supporting people with MS and gained great insight into how MS affects people.
She has set up Get Cooking, an innovative new social enterprise that aims to bring cookery to everyone. Combining her specialist knowledge with her passion for food, Emily has worked hard to reduce barriers and develop new courses that work for everyone. Here she shares her thoughts on the benefits of learning to cook good, honest food.
Being partially deaf myself I have some understanding of the importance of making things accessible. As a Specialist Social Worker, my role included looking at practical ways of helping people with MS, being emotionally supportive, aware, understanding and often creative in terms of tackling any sort of barriers and helping people to work out support plans. Here are my top five reasons why learning to cook can help you live well with MS.
- Cooking is good for your mood!
I appreciate the invisible symptoms of MS and the impact it can have on emotions. Cooking and good food is great for the soul, people can skill themselves up in the kitchen and impress friends and family with their creations, but most importantly they can impress themselves and ignite a passion for cooking.
- Cooking is good for your confidence!
Confidence translates from one area to other areas. I know too well from my own background that being faced with a disability or illness can impair your confidence and challenge your status and identity. Once you’re confident in the kitchen you can carry that over into other areas of your life. Get Cooking is taught in an accessible venue with a range of equipment and positive, it’s very much a glass half full! Courses all have themes and allow people to build on skills each week.
- Learning to cook can make you feel more independent!
Learning to cook inspiring dishes can give you a great sense of freedom, Get Cooking recipes have been designed with people who have MS in mind. I understand that you don’t always have the energy or the time for complications so I created simple good recipes with pictorial instructions that are easier to follow.
- Cooking is a great way to socialise!
Cooking for friends and family is a great way to socialise. Attending cookery courses in a friendly group environment can reduce the feeling of social isolation. Courses all have themes and allow people to build on skills each week. It’s all about having fun – enjoying food and life.
- Cooking for yourself is healthy!
Preparing meals using whole foods avoids the need to rely on ready meals or take away. Once you know how to prepare simple, tasty dishes, you will realise that it’s just as convenient to make them yourself.
To find out more about Get Cooking or to sign up for a course, visit the Get Cooking website or email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org (If you are from the Leeds area and meet the criteria for Adult Social Care services then you may be able to use direct payments to fund courses: ask Emily for more details).
For more information on living well with MS, see our free information sheet.
And see our blog post on Urban Chefs, set up by Jonathan Reen, who has MS, which offers cookery classes in your own home.
And once you’re cooking confidently then why not take part in the MS Trust’s My Supper For MS? This is a great way to raise funds for people affected by MS, all from the comfort of your own home. Find out more and download your free My Supper fundraising pack!