Topic 1 The definition of Culinary Medicine

Diet has been identified as the single most important risk factor for morbidity and mortality in the United States1, yet most health care providers spend relatively few hours learning about nutrition during their training2,3 The nutrition education that is offered is often primarily didactic and focused on the biochemistry of nutrients and health consequences of deficiency states. This focused approach is of limited use in a clinical setting where most of the population faces overnutrition due to high intake of ultra-processed, calorie-dense foods and face several diet related diseases.

Culinary medicine is an emerging, evidence-based discipline, which aims to positively affect public health by improving eating behaviors through integrating nutritional science with food preparation. It brings together nutrition and culinary knowledge and skills to assist patients in maintaining health and preventing and treating food-related disease by choosing high-quality, healthy food in conjunction with appropriate medical care 4.

In the past decade, there have been a growing number of educational initiatives that focus on culinary medicine and are designed for clinicians or directly for parents, children and communities5.  These range from Continuing Medical Education trainings 6,7 and formal medical school curricula8 to outpatient shared visits, live online courses, and remote video coaching.9

  • Culinary medicine is not nutrition, dietetics, or preventive, integrative, or internal medicine, nor is it the culinary arts or food science. It does not have a single dietary philosophy; it does not reject prescription medication; it is not simply about good cooking, flavors or aromas; nor is it solely about the food matrices in which micronutrients, phytonutrients, and macronutrients are found. Instead, culinary medicine is a new evidence-based field in medicine that blends the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine.

Watch the videos below on the role of Culinary Medicine

Ben Chipkin is a food-minded future physician who is passionate about empowering healthcare providers and their patients with healthy lifestyles. He views nutrition, physical activity and the environment as central to our health and strives to transform medicine through this lens. Currently a third-year medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Ben dedicates his time outside the clinic to patient education at JeffHOPE, developing the culinary medicine curriculum at Jefferson and serving on the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility Philadelphia. He holds a Master of Science in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition from Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Dr Rupy Aujla is an NHS doctor who believes modern medicine is fundamentally missing a focus on nutritional medicine. Despite diet being an essential ingredient to our well-being, medical students in the UK often receive just a few hours training in nutrition. Rupy’s TEDx talk explores the medicinal effects of different ingredients and debunks some common ‘diets’,  focusing on how we can make ‘culinary medicine’ rather than fad diets the default option.

Food as medicine and the Culinary Medicine Debate

  • FHealthy eating is a key element to a healthy life, it is crucial to good health and it is part of a correct lifestyleood as medicine
  • Culinary medicine is aimed at helping people reach good personal medical decisions about accessing and eating high-quality meals that help prevent and treat disease and restore well-being
  • Culinary medicine attempts to improve the patient’s condition with what she or he regularly eats and drinks. Special attention is given to how food works in the body as well as to the sociocultural and pleasurable aspects of eating and cooking
  • The objective of culinary medicine is to attempt to empower people to care for themselves safely, effectively, and happily with food and beverage as a primary care technique

Valeria Boltneva in pexels.com

How health professionals approach cooking

  • Health professionals can understand food and its importance to health and well-being and make that understanding available to patients, families, and health care systems for high impact, low cost, high value care.
  • Culinary medicine offers systematic ways to understand and appreciate the persons understanding of food and cooking as part of their care, and apply that understanding to their health care goals. Although curricular progress, especially in medical education, may influence the attitudes and practices of clinicians, equally important to many educators is the effect of the ‘‘hidden curriculum’’ (ie, the observed effect of how practicing clinicians actually eat, drink, cook, and care for themselves).
  • Such behaviour is important not just for self-care, as clinicians’ own health habits predict their counselling practices on food and diet, but also for the health habits of families.
  • Every clinician should be able to access evidence-based, practical methods, skills, research, and continuing education in the field.
  • Culinary medicine, like prescribed exercise should become another tool in a clinician’s toolkit.
  • Every person should have access to evidence-based, practical, culturally sensitive advice about issues of food, cooking, and eating specific to their her particular case. These issues, though seldom explicitly discussed, arise daily during visits. Identification, analysis, and resolution of these issues should become an explicit part of clinical visits, following the medical history and treatment plan

Monicore by pexels.com

How dieticians approach cooking

  • Dietitians have a role in cooking education, and they can act as a bridge between the health community and the culinary community (between MDs who may not have much nutrition training and chefs who have food training but may not have much health knowledge)
  • Dietitians could have tremendous impact if they teach cooking.
  • It could be a rewarding experiences when demonstrating and participating in making food with people; the nutrition message is much more compelling when it’s multisensory.
  • Many dieticians agree they could benefit from additional culinary education to move toward the goal of educating patients. Individual ingredients can change based on producer, seasons, and growing conditions, and there are many cuisines in different parts of the world that could be incorporated in family plans

Daria Shevtsova by pexels.com