What is Culinary Medicine & How Can It Improve Your Health?
Food: A Vehicle of Self-Care
When we eat or cook for ourselves and others, it is an expression of love and self-care for our bodies and minds.
Daily, our food has the chance to nourish us, feed our families and fuel our bodies to do and achieve whatever fulfils our passions and goals in life.
Often, during weight loss attempts, people feel they have to give up all the “fun” foods that bring them joy, that may have cultural or even emotional meaning to them based on their favorite memories with loved ones or may not be a sustainable pattern due to being overly restrictive. Also, in our busy modern lives, cooking at home may not feel very convenient and can be an overwhelming task.
As a society, our fresh “real” foods have been slowly replaced with ultra-processed foods that have moved away from the nutritious options that were the foundation of health of previous generations.
As a result, we have gotten away from nutrient-dense foods that not only contain the micronutrients and macronutrients we need for optimal long-term health, but there is an increased dependence on ultra-processed foods that are not only mostly devoid of the nutrients we need, but are heavy in calorie-dense unhealthy fats and added sugar.
This type of dietary pattern has in part led to an obesity epidemic, increasing rates of diabetes and is also a risk factor for serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, increased risk for certain cancers and liver disease, to name a few!
Despite the importance of nutrition, the link between the foods we eat and chronic disease has not been given the attention it deserves. I am passionate about changing that!
How is culinary medicine practiced?
In my treatment plans with my patients, I take a personalized approach to help them create a sustainable eating style that honors their cultural backgrounds and their likes and dislikes. We have a focus of finding ways to become more PLANT-FORWARD, based on numerous studies showing this type of eating pattern can help to reduce disease burden, regardless of whether you choose to consume animal proteins or not.
It also allows for a focus on including more nutrient and fiber-dense foods that help fill up the plate, rather than having a focus purely on restriction of certain higher calorie processed foods. People also experience improvements in hunger and satiety, which helps them lose excess body fat and improve their metabolic and gut health.
In working with patients, I help them find ways to be more intuitive in their eating patterns and help them be less restrictive with the “fun foods.
We focus on teaching new ways to enjoy different flavor profiles, substitute healthful ingredients in daily cooking, and share ways for prepping and cooking at home that can help you cut down on eating out and not spend the whole day in the kitchen! We know we all have very busy lives!
By empowering our patients with tools and techniques, they not only improve their own health, but that of their whole family. We hear this often!
The goal is to help patients enjoy an eating pattern that not only feels sustainable, but also helps them lose weight and improve health conditions and risk factors like high blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammatory markers.
Whether you are a cooking pro or just a beginner, it is very important to meet you where you are and help you with that connection between your food and your health!