The Unlikely Kitchen… In Your Doctor’s Office

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From the Change Food Editorial Team

In the United States, when a patient goes to the doctor for their wellness check-up they expect blood tests, shots and a physical examination. But the future of doctor’s appointments may include cooking demos and taste tests of healthy meals aimed at effectively keeping that same doctor away.

We often forget that yearly wellness check-ups do not necessarily promise happy, healthy lives. With healthy eating, however, research shows we can prolong our lives and greatly reduce the risk of disease. As discussed in a recently published New York Times article (“When the Prescription Is a Recipe” by Donna De La Cruz), a pediatrician in Spotsylvania, Virginia, understood that many of her patients were coming into her office with problems that could have been avoided if they ate the proper foods. In order to instill a lasting influence on her patient’s lives, Dr. Nimali Fernando introduced a teaching model to enable them to learn how to cook nutritiously-sound meals.

“I needed to do more than just give patients a pamphlet. I had to have a kitchen in my office,” she told the NY Times.

Dr. Fernando’s vision is in line with ours at Change Food and will hopefully produce a domino effect for pediatricians and general practitioners internationally. Doctors across the United States must take on this initiative not only to inform their patients about what to eat, but to teach them how to actually prepare it.  

In the 21st century, it is extremely difficult to follow all the scientific news concerning healthy food and what we are being told to eat. Every day, a new study claims a certain nutrient essential to our daily diet, but many consumers do not understand where to find it. The average citizen cannot keep up and requires the assurance of a doctor or dietitian to direct them towards the proper outlet to recognize what is healthy and what is harmful.

As a future dietitian, I would love to see doctors recommended their patients to dietitians.  When patients are confused about their weights or eating habits, dietitians have the expertise necessary to guide patients towards a healthier future, directing them to meal plans and answering health-related questions. What would happen if doctors asked the advice of dietitians in cooking meals at their offices? We already have one spectacular precedent for doctor-chef-dietitian collaborations in Change Food Doc in Residence Dr. Robert Graham.

“Nutrition is really simple,” said internationally-renowned registered dietitian Ashley Koff at the Change Food Fest 2016. We are what we digest and absorb.”

However, in order to understand and value the importance of the nutrients going in our bodies, we must start in the kitchen. And with any luck, that kitchen could be in our doctor’s (or dietitian’s!) office.

Change Food’s Editorial Team comments on current and timely events in the U.S. and beyond, with a lens on food and the food movement.

Sara Scheidlinger is currently completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Queens College. She hopes to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and pursue a career in either nutritional fertility, oncology, nutrigenomics and public health, or combine all four! She hopes to live in a world that allows healthy food to be available for everyone, anytime, anywhere.

Change Food® works toward a healthier food system for people, animals & the planet.  Learn more about Plant Eat Share – planting food in public spaces. For free.