It seems that Spring is in the air everywhere. Very unusually warm weather in the Mid West and the East coast the past several weeks. Perhaps another sign of Global Warming? Or is it more properly, Global “Warning”? I hope everyone is doing whatever is reasonable to reduce your carbon footprint on the planet.
There is another way to reduce your carbon footprint: improve your diet, eating style, and get more active, resulting in a slimmer, trimmer, more healthy YOU. I returned last Sunday from 4 transformative days attending a Harvard Medical School CME course for physicians entitled, “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives: Caring for Our Patients and Ourselves.” I have a lot to say about my experience.
This outstanding program, presented by The Culinary Institute of America Greystone Institute in St. Helena, and Harvard School of Public Health, was held at the gorgeous CIA facility in the Napa Valley. (Formerly the Christian Bros. Winery.) It was likely the best thing I have ever done for myself, and just great fun.
The 4-day program combined didactic lectures on nutrition; the relationship between healthy eating and healthy nutrition and an improvement in personal health and disease reduction; the science of glycemic index and glycemic load; choosing healthy carbohydrates; choosing healthy fats for cooking; healthy snack tastings; learning appropriate serving/portion sizes; saving time and money in the kitchen; cooking skills for the non-cook; physical activity and it’s importance to you and your patient’s health; how to “get moving” towards health; informing and inspiring our patients: strategies and resources for clinicians; nutrition assessment and motivational interviewing of your patients; the latest research on the health impacts of wine and alcohol; wellness coaching for physicians; how to get children (and their parents) interested in good nutrition and great food; understanding overeating and obesity through the lens of addiction treatment and recovery; healthy dining in restaurants, hospitals, and clinics; shopping for health and navigating American supermarkets; online tools for weight management. In-between didactic sessions there were multiple fun and exciting cooking demonstrations by the CIA Greystone Institute Chef Staff–all emphasizing delicious, healthy, and easily prepared meals for the novice chef (ourselves). There were multiple 2-hour workshops devoted to a variety of topics relating to specific kinds of healthy cooking, and health and wellness coaching. Finally, all participants went to the massive industrial kitchens at the Greystone Institute for a two-hour hands on (actually hands IN) demonstration of your choice of multiple healthy cooking styles such as cooking with fruit, cooking with legumes; cool salads and dressings; vegetable recipes from around the world; healthy cooking with nuts and legumes; mastering healthy marinades and grilling to name a few.
All in all, simply an amazing and life-changing experience for me, and I believe all 500 physicians who attended. Istrongly recommend you attend this course next year, to be presented in mid-March, 2013 again sponsored by Harvard School of Public health and the Greystone Institute of the Culinary Institute of America. Next year it will again be in the Napa Valley at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Institute facility. The program provides 22 hours of Category I CME credit, to boot.
As a result of this course, I have embarked on a new path to: a. personally begin doing more healthy cooking at home, and share that role with my wife, b. participate in shopping for healthy food at the supermarket with my wife, c. increasing the frequency and lengthening the duration of my personal exercise, and d. shift to healthy, good tasting snacks for mid-morning and mid-afternoon “hungries” at work. My goal: become the healthiest I have ever been, and lose 20 pounds over the course of the next year. This should also improve the already good control of my Type II diabetes, and hopefully reduce the need for some of my medications for same.
The lessons from this course have become part of a new discipline of medical training called, LIFESTYLE MEDICINE. It is now possible to do a residency in LifeStyle Medicine. Harvard Medical School is about to introduce a training curriculum for physicians-in-training. For those who don’t want a new residency, but want to get more involved in coaching your patients toward improved health and wellness, Harvard has also created two separate training programs for physicians to become health and wellness-certified coaches. 2,000 MD’s have already been certified in these two programs. The shorter of the two programs can be completed online, takes several months of (weeknight and weekend) study, and the tuition is about $1000.00. I’m thinking of doing it myself, so that I can better coach my own clients to better health and wellness.
Below, I am sending you the summary page from the 4-day program: Take Home Messages regarding Healthy Food, as well as Healthy Intentions, Behaviors, and Perceptions. I hope each of you will read them, incorporate the wisdom provided, and commit yourself to improving your own health and wellness by transforming your eating choices!
TAKE HOME MESSAGES PART 1: FOODS TO ENCOURAGE OR DISCOURAGE
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and nuts in place of processed carbohydrates.
- Choose healthier carbohydrates – whole grains and foods with lower glycemic loads.
- Choose healthier proteins – emphasize fish, poultry, tofu, nuts, and legumes. Red meat only once/week.
- Eliminate trans fat, reduce saturated fats, and replace these with healthier, plant-based fats and oils.
- Imagine your “ideal plate” to be: 1/4 protein; 1/4 healthier carbs; 1/2 vegetables.
- Consider the “dessert flip”: more fruit, and much smaller portions of any indulgent favorite, eg, puddings, sauces, etc
- Portion control is “King” – “It’s the calories stupid.” Do the “portion distortion” math!
- Look for opportunities to reduce salt. Season with herbs and spices first.
- In place of sugar-sweetened beverages, emphasize water, tea, and coffee.
- Enjoy wine/alcohol, but not too much!
- Consider the impact on sustainability of the foods we choose to buy and eat.
TAKE HOME MESSAGES PART 2: INTENTIONS, BEHAVIORS AND PERCEPTIONS
- Exercise matters! A lot! Must walk 10,000 steps 4 days a week to maintain weight; 5 miles 4d/wk to lose weight.
- The types of food eaten significantly impacts disease risk independent of weight.
- Mindfulness and intention affect all behaviors – including what and how we eat.
- View healthy eating as an enjoyable way of life, not a “diet” causing perpetual deprivation.
- Taste trumps nutrition science every time. “No one can live on food of penitence”–Molly Katzen. Therefore, use more herbs and spices to prepare tasty meals!
- You can still feed your “inner jerk” from time to time. Celebratory foods can still be enjoyed. Just not daily.
- Eating well – and mindfully – with those you love, is a priceless joy. Do it. Model it. Teach it to others.
- Set attainable goals and celebrate progress on a level that encourages willful participation. Dietitions and coaches are are your critical team mates.
- For health care providers: Be reminded that how you eat impacts your advice to patients about how they eat.
- For culinary professionals: Making better food options available – through overt or “stealth-health” methods, is an essential prerequisite to improving the wellbeing of the next generation. JUST DO IT.
- Someday soon, this will make good business sense and the market will support the innovators and trend setters.
- Encourage local, seasonal foods and consider the environmental and societal impact of foods you purchase, eat, and recommend to others.
- In this course we have demonstrated that “delicious”, “healthy”, “craveable”, “convenient”, “affordable”, and “easy” to make meals are NOT mutually exclusive terms!