Baking Becomes Growing Outlet For Anxiety

By Beth Leipholtz 01/15/19

Some therapists are even prescribing baking for their patients struggling with anxiety.

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woman taking oi deal with her anxiety

For Kelly Caiazzo, relief from her anxiety comes from an unexpected place: cooking and baking. 

Caiazzo, 35, told The Portland Press Herald that the constant flow of negative news contributes to her anxiety. 

“Even when I’m trying to take a rest day and take a deep breath, I’m still getting it because of social media,” she said. “It’s one headline after another about things that are going to make our country less safe from an environmental perspective.”

So, in such instances, Caiazzo turns to prepping food. And she isn’t alone. In December, The Atlantic ran a piece about millennials turning to baking to decrease stress and anxiety. And, according to the American Psychiatric Association, stress levels are only increasing as 40% of Americans reported feeling more anxious in 2018 than the previous year. 

It seems people are seeking out comfort foods as well, according to the Press Herald. Pete Leavitt, owner of Leavitt & Sons delis in Portland and Falmouth, said sales of his chicken potpie have skyrocketed in the last year with more than a double-digit increase. Ali Waks-Adams, executive chef at the Brunswick Inn, told the Press Herald the same can be said for their tapioca pudding. 

Another increase has been seen in the number of people applying for jobs in the food industry, especially people with no prior culinary experience. Stacy Begin, owner of the Two Fat Cats bakeries, told the Press Herald that many “describe baking as a ‘release,’” in their resumes.

Andrea Swanson, owner of Portland’s Scattoloni Bakery, said she has had an overwhelming increase in enrollment in her baking classes in recent years.  

“Most of them want to do it as a hobby,” Swanson told the Press Herald, “but a lot of them, especially the bread ones, they’re into it as something to do at home to kind of decompress. They’ve tried bread machines, and it’s not the same thing.”

Some therapists, such as Hannah Curtis of Falmouth, are even prescribing baking for their patients struggling with anxiety.

“In baking, there are still rules we can count on,” she said. “If I do it right, and I do it in the right order, I’m going to get the right result.”

Kathy Gunst, a South Berwick food writer and cookbook author, told the Press Herald she found comfort in baking during the hearings for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. 

“People would come into my house and say ‘What is going on here?’” Gunst stated. “And I would say ‘I’m trying to stay sane. That’s what’s going on here.’” 

For Caiazzo, the urge to cook and bake also gives her a greater sense of control. 

“Even though I can’t control the world at large, I can have a major impact on taking responsibility for my own personal impact and actions,” she said.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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