Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans has its students going to culinary school, reports NPR. What do the culinary arts have to do with medicine? When you think about it, a whole lot.
“I think it’s forward thinking to start to see, to view food as medicine,” says Piper, a fourth-year medical student at Tulane med school. “That’s not something that’s really on our radar in medical education. But with the burden of disease in the United States being so heavily weighted with lifestyle disease, I think it’s a very, very logical next step.” Piper is taking classes at Johnson & Wales University (a culinary arts school) in Providence, R.I., as part of a new program at Tulane designed to educate med students and chefs-in-training about nutrition.
Neha Solanki, a fourth-year medical student at Tulane, makes a profound point when she says, “We basically learn how to take care of patients when things go wrong, which is sad.” A disheartening truth is that we, in America, seem to have a “sick care system” rather than a healthcare system, where more than half of Americans are living with one or more serious, preventable chronic disease, ranging from type-2 diabetes to cancer. Many of these illnesses could be prevented if doctors and the general public were encouraged to take preventative measures, like living a healthy lifestyle and eating well. If doctors viewed food as a form of medicine, not something that causes illness, maybe they could make their patients see the same. The Tulane culinary medicine program is taking a step in the right direction to achieve this feasible goal.
The culinary medicine program also benefits the culinary students at Johnson & Wales. The Tulane students teach the culinary students about how the body functions, and how to make healthy decisions while cooking. Hopefully, we will see more programs like this pop up around the country, and healthcare in America will use food as a form of preventative medicine.