Why Doctors-in-Training Take “Culinary Medicine” Much More Seriously
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Doctors aren’t the only ones wearing white coats.
But a doctor tries to show that the traditional white doctor’s outfit can do extra work in the kitchen.
As Americans strive to eat healthier, Stanford University physician Dr. Michelle Hauser inspires medical students early on to learn how to eat healthier by teaching them how to cook with a curriculum in medicine that is now featured in more than 100 countries, according to a press release.
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“Nutrition education represents a critical missed opportunity in medical education in the United States and in many countries around the world,” Hauser, who is board certified in internal medicine and lifestyle medicine, told Fox News Digital. .
“The domain of CM [culinary medicine] was born to fill a gap between nutrition as it is taught (or not taught) in most health professional training programs,” she added.
She said it was “necessary to acquire knowledge and skills to partner effectively with patients to help them change their dietary habits to achieve their health goals and improve longevity, well-being and performance.
Hauser, who trained at the famed restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., is director of obesity medicine for the medical weight loss program at Stanford’s Center for Lifestyle and Weight Management.
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The program “is not intended to replace traditional healthcare, but rather to be one of the tools healthcare professionals can rely on,” Hauser noted in a recent press release.
“In the United States, the recommendation is that 0.6% of the average total teaching hours in medical schools be devoted to nutrition-related topics – and most schools are still lacking,” he said. she told Fox News Digital.
“I’ve found that as a doctor, just telling patients to eat healthier as a way to treat or prevent disease isn’t very effective.”
But only 25% of medical schools have a course dedicated to nutrition.
“This is despite the fact that diet is the single most important risk factor for morbidity and mortality in the United States,” she said. It is “associated with 11 million deaths worldwide each year”.
Hauser also noted that most of the nutrition lessons that exist focus on things that aren’t likely to change eating behaviors.
“I’ve found that as a physician, simply telling patients to eat healthier as a way to treat or prevent disease isn’t super effective,” Hauser said in a press release.
“But it’s easy to get people to change their eating habits when you talk about how something tastes – maybe you’re promoting a new recipe or a new restaurant and how good it tastes.”
If the food is “awful, we’re not going to enroll in another healthy cooking class,” the students told Dr. Hauser.
She has now been teaching the course at Stanford for five years after being inspired to begin this journey during her college years.
“When I was a student to continue my pre-med studies, I had already trained as a chef and needed to work full time to continue my studies,” she said in a press release. .
“I ended up running a cooking school.”
When the students in the class started asking her how they could eat differently to improve their health, like lower their cholesterol levels or help their partner better control the person’s diabetes, she started “to learn more about the nutrition and implementing it in my cooking classes”. “
So she started a healthy cooking class.
Culinary medicine, she said, “addresses the aspect of nutrition education with more relevance to the average person making decisions about what to eat on a day-to-day basis,” she said. at Fox News Digital.
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Initially, some people were skeptical.
So she showed her students that she practiced what she taught – eating the recipes she taught at home so “they would know that I wouldn’t eat something if it wasn’t good” .
“If it’s terrible, we’re not going to enroll in another healthy cooking class,” she told her students.
The doctor would ask the others, “Why don’t we talk to people with heart disease about what they eat?”
But as word of mouth spread, the class soon had a waiting list. She then took these experiences with her to medical school.
However, while in medical school, she noticed that doctors were not integrating nutrition into their conversations with patients who could really benefit from knowing how healthy eating habits could improve their health.
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“I would ask my assistants [doctors who supervise medical students], ‘Why don’t we talk to people with heart disease about what they eat?’ or ‘Why don’t we talk to people with diabetes about their diet, only prescriptions?'” she said in a press release.
She noted that many healthcare professionals don’t have the time to have these meaningful conversations about eating habits.
Or, they’re simply resigned to the fact that “nobody is changing their diet anyway, and it’s better to just focus on the meds.”
“It got me thinking, ‘Well, maybe we’re approaching the topic of healthy eating with patients the wrong way,'” Hauser said.
“Most people know vegetables are good for them,” she told Fox News Digital.
But only one in 10 people eat the recommended number of servings each day, she said.
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“Common barriers that stand in the way are cost, lack of knowledge and skill to select and prepare healthy ingredients, time, and socializing that foods can be healthy or delicious, but not both,” Hauser told Fox News Digital.
Culinary medicine is an effective way to address these key barriers to eating behavior change by teaching people that healthy eating can be tasty, quick and inexpensive if a person knows how to cook and plan their meals, she said. note.
She wanted to change the status quo.
So she worked with a medical school faculty member to launch the first continuing education conference in culinary medicine — “which continues to this day.”
It’s called Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘You need to change your diet and you need to exercise more’ – a strategy we now recognize isn’t very effective,” said Dr David Miles Eisenberg, director of the culinary nutrition and assistant associate professor. of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
He is also founding co-director of the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference.
The conference is multidisciplinary in nature and includes two specialties that wear white coats – chefs and health professionals to teach how cooking can improve eating habits.
And next February, the course, co-sponsored by Harvard TH Chan School and the CIA – as in the Culinary Institute of America – will take place in Napa, California.
It is another thing “to be brought into a ‘Teaching Kitchen’, taken by the hand and provided with an education.”
“It’s a whole other thing to be brought into a ‘teaching kitchen’, taken by the hand and given an education,” he told Fox News Digital.
Those who attend the conference will learn “which foods to eat more, less of and why”.
He notes that the conference also teaches “how to cook with easily accessible whole food ingredients and prepare healthy yet delicious, affordable, easy-to-prepare (and sustainable) recipes and meals.”
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It also highlights the importance of regular exercise, but reiterates “how essential it is to eat and live mindfully” and provides helpful tips for changing habits that are counterproductive.
He spoke to Fox News Digital about another conference coming up in October. It will show how culinary medicine is integrated into many places in the United States and around the world today.
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It’s called the Teaching Kitchen Research Conference (tkresearchconference.org), and it’s sponsored by Harvard and the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative. It is co-funded by the National Institutes of Health.
“The potential for learning to cook, move, eat and think healthier can and will change behaviors, clinical outcomes and costs of care for everyone,” Eisenberg said.