Culinary Medicine

Purpose of the New Culinary Medicine Course for Medical Students

LSU Health launched a pilot ‘culinary medicine’ course for its medical students. It includes dietitian lectures and field trips to help students learn how to eat healthily. The goal is to soon include dietary modifications in future medical exams.

In other words… someday, healthy recipes may be prescribed by physicians along with medicines.

Sounds interesting?

Well, this is no ordinary med school course. It’s a very intense, two-week class where students learn about nutrition for various patients and conditions, such as:

  • Elderly
  • Pregnant Women
  • Athletes
  • Diabetics
  • Chronic Illnesses
  • Religious Food Choices
  • Spiritual Food Choices

During class time, LSU Health medical students take field trips to hospital cafeteria services, cardiac rehabs and grocery stores. They also spend time in the kitchen preparing and taste-testing healthy foods and snacks.

Doctors spend a lot of time advising their patients to change their diets. But, according to LSU Health administrators, it’s important that physicians provide patients with a list of ingredients to help make their favorite dishes healthier.

LSU Health wants to give its med school students the tools they need to provide these lists to their patients. They’re training students to provide such lists during future medical exams and as parts of the prescriptions.

What do students say?

Third-year medical students at LSU Health are the first to take part in this pilot program. Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nichols State University currently provides the elective course.

Kelsey Lacourrege is an LSUHSC third-year student who said:

“Food is often sort of seen as the enemy to health, but I think that this course is really showing us that it can also be a positive thing, and part of the solution as well.”

Evan Villemez is also a third-year LSUHSC medical student. He believes the course gives him the tools he needs to go the extra mile for his patients. It’s his goal to educate them, so they don’t have to come back as often as they would without a healthy diet, noting:

“…I can really spend a little bit more time and really go that extra, extra mile to help them.”

What do instructors say?

The students baked lactation cookies designed to help nursing mothers and their babies. Head of the Culinary Institute Chef John Kozar says:

“There is science behind it. It’s the flax seed and brewer’s yeast that are included in the cookies. Not a whole lot of sugar in them.

According to Assistant Pediatric Hospitalist Dr. Robin English, the course teaches students about health and food. The Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education at LSUHSC says they also learn how to incorporate food and healthy into their own daily healthcare routines:

“And that have been shown to improve how they can counsel patients.”

Dr. Robin English says the medical students have made fried chicken using grains, yogurt, and corn flakes, instead of eggs and white flour. They’ve also done taste tests on muffins made with and without egg yolks.

Someday, future doctors may be writing prescriptions that include recipe tips for their favorite dishes.

Wouldn’t that be awesome?!!!

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