Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives

 

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Dr. David Eisenberg with his son and daughter demonstrating healthy cooking.

I recently attended the 11th Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives Conference put on by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America. It was a literally delicious combination of lectures from physicians, dieticians,  chefs, and others.

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Chef Adam Busby of the Culinary Institute of America

There were 411 people registered for the course, coming from 35 states, and internationally from 29 countries. Including spouses, faculty, chefs, and exhibitors, more than 550 people attended. For those registered, 59% were physicians, 11% nutritionists, 5% nurses & nurse practitioners, 5% masters of public health, and 20% others (chefs, psychologists, physical therapists, exercise trainers, physician assistants). The majority of physicians were internal medicine and family medicine, but also pediatrics, OB/GYN, sports medicine, psychiatry, anesthesiology, cardiology, endocrinology, and surgical specialties. A diverse group, indeed.

We had lectures from top notch physicians, dieticians, chefs, and others. Many were book authors. I already made a couple of recipes from Suvir Saran autographed book.

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Dr. Eward Phillips talking about exercise.

They fed us well, with something like 350 different healthy dishes to try.

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We also had a hands on kitchen session, then ate our own cooking.

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Chef Thomas Wong

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Now the challenge is how to use all the information and get my patients to eat healthier. As a start, I’ve posted some healthy recipes on Pinterest.

A New Target for Food Companies

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_14942511_mature-satisfied-chef-smell-the-aroma-of-his-food-while-cooking-at-restaurant.html'>rido / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Food companies use sophisticated science and psychology to get people to buy their food. Using combinations of salt, sugar, and fat, among other things, they entice us and cause actual addiction. Although many people are rightfully concerned given the levels of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems, I think they’re missing out on a segment of the population that might actually benefit from their craft.

Not infrequently do I see patients, often elderly, who have a problem many of us could only wish for. They have a poor appetite. This may be due to many factors, including diminished smell and taste, poor vision, and dry mouth. What they need is food meant to appeal to them.

One of the tricks used to sell us more food is vanishing caloric density. Foods like Cheetos, that quickly melt in the mouth, fool the brain  to think there are less calories than there really are, so people eat more of them. If you’re malnourished, that might be a good thing. The food engineers should create foods that people with a poor appetite will actually want to eat. Throw in some vitamins and fiber, and just maybe they would get physicians to recommend them.

One Year Diet Costco Special

Costco has an online special of a 1 year emergency food supply for one person for $1199.99, made by Shelf Reliance. Incredibly that’s only 13 cents per serving. Some of the items have a shelf life of 25 years! At 1865 calories per day, many of patients would lose some weight.

Realistically, most people would not voluntarily eat only this for a year unless it was an emergency. I certainly would rather spend a year blogging and working my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

It does show that it’s possible to subsist on a pretty low food budget (the cost of cooking and cleaning is extra). In fact one could make some substitutions, such as brown rice in place of white, to make it healthier, and add more variety supplementing with some fresh produce (or growing it in one’s yard), and add in some chicken or fish once or twice a week in place of some the less healthy items. Bon Appétit!