Program Explores Food as Medicine

October 03, 2017
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From left: Shawn Jones, a second-year student at UofL School of Medicine, and Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Medicine, with Gabe Sowder, a chef with Walden School. Photo courtesy of Eat 2B Well

Doctors, dietitians and chefs have joined forces to teach medical students the influence of good nutrition on their own bodies so they can help patients understand the rewards and challenges of nutrition intervention. 

The Eat 2B Well culinary medicine program is a new eight-week elective course for students at the University of Louisville School of Medicine designed to help future physicians understand the challenges their patients face in obtaining, selecting and preparing foods. Classes are held at Cooking at Millie’s, 340 W. Chestnut St., Louisville. 

With increasing evidence that a poor diet causes or worsens many chronic diseases, it is more important than ever for physicians to help their patients eat well. However, physicians traditionally learn about nutrition in terms of science and clinical impact, which doesn’t always translate to helping patients eat better. Eat 2B Well is aimed at helping future doctors understand the issues their patients face in terms of resources, time and food preparation skills. 

“Many of the chronic health problems that burden the Commonwealth, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, can be prevented through good nutrition. The goal of Eat 2B Well is to equip U of L medical students with the real-world practical knowledge of nutrition and healthy cooking so that they can best help their future patients,” said Jon Klein, MD, PhD, vice dean for research at the University of Louisville. Eat 2B Well was conceptualized by Toni Ganzel, MD, MBA, dean of the school of medicine. 

Each Eat 2B Well class includes instruction on practical nutrition, disease association and food preparation from a team that includes a registered dietitian/nutritionist, a professional chef and a member of the medical school faculty. Local chefs provide instruction for the food preparation portion of the class. The chefs and dietitian/nutritionists are volunteering their time to teach this course. The dietitian/nutritionists on the instruction teams are from the Veterans’ Administration, Louisville Metro Health, Baptist Hospital, Jewish Hospital, University of Louisville Physicians, UofL Health Promotions and Food Smarts Nutrition. 

Joining the medical students in the classes are students from the culinary track of YouthBuild Louisville, an education, job training and leadership program for low-income young adults ages 18–24. Classes include discussion of issues associated with food insecurity and the health problems resulting from poor nutrition. Class groups will then prepare meals using cost-conscious ingredients readily available at grocery stores and markets in West Louisville, and prepared with  equipment available in low-income homes. 

“To talk comfortably about food, medical professionals need to be respectful of individuals’ food cultures, to understand how complex social factors influence food habits and to have hands-on experience preparing food themselves,” said Diana Pantalos, PhD, RDN, U of L nutritionist and developer of the curricular content. 

The goal is to extend the program to include community engagement activities, providing at-risk families with food preparation education. 

With increasing evidence that a poor diet causes or worsens many chronic diseases, it is more important than ever for physicians to help their patients eat well. 

Participating chefs include Eneitra Beattie, Brown Forman Corporation, Bourbon Street Café; Bobby Benjamin, Butchertown Grocery; Kathy Douglas, Fresh Chef Experience; Tina Lee, Fresh Stop Market, Dare to Care; Lorita Rowlett, Fresh Stop Market; Anoosh Shariat, Anoosh Bistro, Noosh Nosh; Gabe Sowder, Wiltshire Pantry; and Andrea Wells, Farm to Baby Louisville. 

Whole Foods Market is providing food. Additional sponsors include Gordon Food Service (GFS) and Save-A-Lot Grocery. New Roots, Inc., Sullivan University and Jefferson Community and Technical College culinary arts programs. 

Eat 2B Well is modeled after The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, started by Timothy Harlan, MD, in 2012. The Center focuses on research and development, and the Teaching Kitchen Medical Student Club, which coordinates community outreach, medical student service learning and children’s programming. Learn more:

CulinaryMedicine.org | YBKY.org | CookingatMillies.com 

Article from Edible Louisville & the Bluegrass at http://ediblelouisville.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/program-explores-food-medicine
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