Cooking for health: New course teaches students cooking skills to encourage better eating habits

Food plays a significant role in health & wellbeing.

However, many care providers don’t know how to apply that understanding in practice. When patients ask for healthy eating advice – like what meals to make or how to cook certain healthy foods – health care professionals don’t know what to say.

The Center for Spirituality & Healing created a course to combat that. The class offers students from all majors the unique chance to learn not only how a healthy diet improves both body and mind, but also gives hands-on experience in the kitchen, and direction on how to prepare better meals.

“Everybody cooks,” said Kate (Venable) Shafto, M.D., “the course is not a demonstration, it is participation.”

Shafto, an assistant professor in the Medical School leads the “Food Matters” class with Jenny Breen, M.P.H., a professional chef with the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Almost 80 percent of the conditions doctors are seeing in their patients today are due to poor lifestyle habits, and many can be prevented and treated with the right food.

“Food Matters” hopes to draw in future health professionals to teach them how the food we put in our bodies can heal us, and how to cook it. The idea is that the students can take the information they learn from the course, and convey it to their future patients. With their own understanding of cooking for health, physicians can teach patients how to apply the concept into their lives, and could have a significant impact on managing chronic diseases.
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities