Doctors in the kitchen

By • Published: March 8th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When you think up a list of skills doctors need to have, the ability to julienne carrots and whip a Brussels sprout into something that’s actually tasty probably doesn’t come to mind. But should it?

Yes. At least that’s what a growing number of experts think. And it makes sense. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent of adults and children in the United States are obese. In addition, heart disease is on the rise and almost 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Many of these folks have Type 2, which is linked to eating habits.

Now, a handful of programs are popping up around the country and within medical schools to help physicians give their patients a nutritional edge.

In 2007, the Harvard School of Public Health teamed up with the Culinary Institute of America to develop Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives. The program holds a conference each year that gives doctors a chance to learn the latest about nutrition science and culinary trends. And they also pick up a few handy kitchen skills and healthy food prep strategies that they can pass on to their patients. About 400 docs participate in Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives each year.

In addition to programs like this, some medical schools and hospitals are establishing their own programs to help their medical staffs boost their culinary savvy. At the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a program is in place that teaches physicians everything from the issues patients face while shopping for food to how to make healthy … and tasty … meals. The UMass program also teaches docs how to make foods that are beneficial for patients with certain conditions, like heart disease and diabetes.

With more doctors getting in the kitchen, patients will get the best of both worlds: great nutrition advice … and a trick or two to help serve those Brussels sprouts.