If comfort and warmth are at the heart of hygge, then it stands to reason that one way to create those feelings is through the food and drinks that you consume.
In Denmark, where the winters can last up to eight months of the year, warm stews, freshly baked bread and pastries, along with a steaming cup of coffee or hot chocolate, is often just the "central heating" that can boost your mood.
The Importance of Cooking and Baking:
In many cultures around the world, gathering together over a meal is an essential staple of celebration. And with the Danish practice of hygge, it is no different.
As the Danes – and hygge practitioners see it - the actual act of cooking and baking can bring as much joy to the moment as the act of sitting down to share the meal.
Working side-by-side, talking through a recipe and sharing the cooking or baking tasks are all opportunities to connect with your friends or family.
Equally, cooking or baking with others offers opportunities for everyone to be fully engaged in the dinner event, and it is this sense of shared collaboration that can increase feelings of belonging and well-being.
Beyond the culinary experience, any food itself can be hygge – as long as it's comforting to you.
Health Benefits of Home Cooking:
In a study on how food choices influence mood, Stanford health psychologist Dr Kelly McGonigal discovered that women were significantly happier and less stressed after eating healthy meals they prepared themselves.
Also, studies have highlighted how non-home cooked dining is associated with a more inadequate diet and more "empty" calories. Often, this is because commercially prepared foods are high in unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar, while restaurants often serve up to three times more food than is recommended for healthy plate portions.
The Art of Eating:
Once you sit down to eat – whether it's in the comfort of your own home, restaurant, café or cosy pub – it's important to savour the moment as well as the meal. This means not rushing your food.
Spending time with other people is always an opportunity to remember the importance of community in creating a comfortable and satisfying living environment.
In a hygge atmosphere, mobile phone, televisions and other digital devices have no place on or near the dining table.
Instead, you need to connect fully with those you are with, listening to what they have to say, and joining in with the chat. Hygge diners embrace slowness and enjoy the time set aside to be present without distractions.
Whether in a company or on your own, allow your sense of taste, smell and sight to take over as you savour every bite of whatever it is you are eating.