Spectrum health in Grand Rapids launches culinary medicine program for residents

Future doctors will gain healthy cooking skills to support their personal health as well as the health of their patients

This fall Spectrum Health launched a new Culinary medicine program for doctors in their residency program. Culinary Medicine is a program developed by the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University. The purpose of the program is to equip future doctors with healthy cooking skills and information about how nutrition plays a role in preventing and managing chronic diseases, especially Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Leanne Mauriello, a health psychologist and director of behavioral science and lifestyle management for Spectrum Health says that almost half of Americans have at least one chronic disease and lifestyle can prevent 80 percent of chronic diseases. Diet and exercise are key aspects of healthy lifestyles. Dr. Mauriello says that Culinary Medicine will help fill a knowledge gap because new physicians typically only receive 19 hours of education in nutrition.

Instructors include Chef Werner Absenger, director of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College, Kristi Artz, M.D., a Spectrum Health emergency room physician and lead physician for the Culinary Medicine program, and Krista Gast, Registered Dietitian with Spectrum Health. Some of the classes are held in the teaching kitchen of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.

This program was inspired by a 2015 pilot of the Tulane Culinary Medicine program launched by Michigan State University Extension and students from Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. To learn more about this pilot project, click here.

“The success of MSU Extension’s pilot project with Culinary Medicine along with Spectrum Health’s vision to provide more comprehensive preventative care for their patients made pursuing this program in Grand Rapids very appealing. Our Culinary Medicine team at Spectrum is fortunate to have strong partnerships with GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary education, as well as the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, which has allowed us to implement the curriculum for resident education while we move forward with plans for community and professional classes in the near future,” said Dr. Artz.

Providing nutrition and cooking skills to medical professionals may be a growing trend. According to the Goldring Center’s web site, nine other medical schools have adopted the Culinary Medicine curriculum and are using it with their students.

Increasing the amount of nutrition education isn’t exclusive to medical students. Practicing doctors and other health professionals are required to complete continuing medical education (CME) courses. The American College of Nutrition is a provider of CME courses. Their 2017 conference is titled, “Disrupting Cancer: The Role of Personalized Nutrition.”

Michigan State University Extension provides community-based nutrition education to school-aged students, low-income households, and to the general public. For more information about MSU Extension’s nutrition education resources, visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/nutrition

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