Home Marketplace Getting doctors into the kitchen

Getting doctors into the kitchen

November 2012

Published in the November 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

IF YOU’RE TIRED OF CME that consists of lectures on GI bleeds and dermatological nightmares, then perhaps Napa Valley is calling. This coming March, for the seventh year in a row, physicians will gather for a conference “complete with CME credits “held by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America.

While the “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives” conference features didactic sessions, attendees also taste hundreds of prepared recipes, learn to cook by rotating through eight demonstration kitchens and sample (a lot of) wine donated by local vineyards. The four-day event, which costs $1,200, is capped at 400 physician attendees “and it’s almost always sold out by Thanksgiving.

The conference is the brainchild of David Eisenberg, MD, associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, executive vice president of the Samueli Institute, and the descendant of generations of cooks and bakers. “I always thought it was odd that so few medical colleagues could talk to patients about preparing and enjoying healthy food,” he says.

Medical school certainly offers little on nutrition, Dr. Eisenberg notes, and virtually nothing on how to translate nutritional information into food selection and preparation. And evidence suggests, he adds, that physicians’ personal behaviors “strongly predict their prospectively advising their patients about these same behaviors. If doctors change their own nutrition and lifestyle habits, they will ultimately alter their interaction with patients who need to change their diets as much as they need a new prescription or surgical intervention.”

The conference brings together doctors who, says Dr. Eisenberg, “don’t know how to cook.” The goal is to have clinicians preparing what he calls “less-than-30-minute meals that are affordable, healthy and spectacularly delicious. We bust the myth that only people who go to culinary school can do this, and that it’s all expensive and takes too much time.”

This year, the conference will also highlight hospitals and physician practices that are teaching patients how to shop and prepare healthy, delicious food “what Dr. Eisenberg calls the first ripple of a coming wave. “Hospitals will have to be in the business of teaching patients how to translate what we know about nutrition into food choices and cooking skills,” he says. “We have to help them stay well or better manage diseases that, by and large, are the end result of lifestyle.”

More information is online at www.healthykitchens.org.