It’s no secret that obesity is one of America’s most noticeable health risks. You may notice even your own family doctor isn’t immune to the rise in body mass index and diabetes as they jam pack their schedules, finding little time for healthy nutritional choices and physical activity.
While doctors exit med schools with their minds packed full of methods to treat ailments, what if their vast knowledge also included better nutritional expertise to promote preventative care? What if your doctor had the time, knowledge, and skills to cook?
The Current Medical Education System
Your doctor can check your cholesterol levels and alert you when they’re out of range. But more importantly, can your doctor tell you what foods to eat and how to prepare the food to regain a healthy level of cholesterol? A survey of graduating medical students suggest that many felt inadequate to accomplish this task through diet. In fact, over half the students felt they were lacking in nutritional training and would have to rely more on medication to fix the problem. The National Academy of Sciences recommends a minimum of 25 hours of nutritional instruction, however only a small number of schools actually follow this standard.
Adding Culinary Training to the Medical Field
Culinary curriculum in universities such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School is preparing doctors with hands-on cooking training to improve their health as well as that of their patients. From West Virginia’s program, MEDCHEFS, to Tulane’s School of Culinary Medicine, more doctors are graduating with knowledge of meal planning, macronutrients and everyday healthy cooking techniques.
Cook More, Live Longer
Warming a TV dinner in the microwave or hitting a local drive through may be an easy solution for a busy schedule, but it also increases the likelihood of a meal high in fat and sodium with lower nutritional value. Studies show that people who cook their own food are more likely to eat healthy and live longer.
People may think twice about making a recipe if they see that it calls for a pound of butter and instead may opt for a healthier choice. Having doctors well-versed in cooking will allow them to guide patients toward healthy ingredients and cooking methods. Instead of frying potatoes in oil or mashing a potato with a stick of butter, doctors can educate patients on a healthier option of baking and healthier oil alternatives.
Most importantly, doctors who know how to cook with everyday ingredients can help clients in every socioeconomic class have access to sound nutritional advice. They will be able to make dietary suggestions that are affordable and practical for their average patients.