Monday, April 16, 2012


Ah, food, my second favorite fantasy subject. We’re talking about it more these days, possibly because we know more about the association between food and health, especially in the face of endemic obesity and type two diabetes.

Yet doctors get minimal to zero training in nutrition. So Dr. David Eisenberg, an associate professor at the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, is teaching it to his colleagues—not in some dry, windowless classroom, but at the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA), in Napa Valley, Calfornia. Read about it at

He offers hands-on experience, teaching them how to cook. Many, having spent their entire adult lives in either intensive trainings or rushed practices, have existed on vending machine cuisine or take-out, and have never hefted a whisk. The idea, of course, is that when they converse with patients about nutrition, they’ll have experiential access to flavors, aromas, and texture in addition to data about protein, cholesterol, and sodium.

After cooking, these docs dine and wine together. Said one chef-instructor of his medical pupils, “Many doctors treat food as a clinical procedure rather than the sensual act it ought to be.” They’re learning what we could all use as a refresher, the opportunity to eat well, which is more than filling the mouth. It means leaving care and responsibility temporarily, communing with friends, and enjoying the world of the senses. One doesn’t have to pay for a Napa Valley workshop to do this. You can do it anywhere, with just about anyone. My mantra is rapidly becoming, “The best medicine is living well.”

1 comment:

  1. I believe Hippocrates said to make food our medicine long ago.

    I didn't learn much about this in school, but educated myself in the area afterwords. Because of the facial surgery I do, where patients often have their mouths wired shut, or need to be on a liquid or very soft diet, it did have clinical applications :-)