Eisenberg Promotes Teaching Kitchen to UC Community
Courses in gross anatomy, biochemistry, histology and
pathology are the standard for medical students across the country.
But far too few are taught as part of the curriculum how food,
nutrition and mindfulness come together to shape the behaviors of
future patients and influence health, says one of the
nation’s top nutritionists.
Health professionals have no requirement to know how to teach
patients to cook healthy, balance stress and understand nutrition,
says David Eisenberg, MD, associate professor at Harvard T.H. Chan
School of Public Health. "It’s not on any professional board
exams. To their credit the national board of medical examiners is
looking at this and saying we have to change this.”
Eisenberg came to UC’s Kresge Auditorium in the Medical
Sciences Building Sept. 23, 2016, to present "Nutrition and
Mindfulness in an Era of Obesity and Diabetes—Might Teaching
Kitchens Serve as Catalysts of Personal and Societal
Transformation.” The talk, part of the fifth annual Dr.
Khushman V. Sanghvi Memorial Lectureship on the Mind-Body Interface
in Health and Healing, preceded a community event held to celebrate
the opening of a "teaching kitchen” at the Cincinnati
area’s largest local organic farm, Turner Farm Inc., in
The kitchen will in part be used for educational programs on
healthy living, including culinary and nutritional literacy,
mindful eating, movement, self-care and personal responsibility for
health in close collaboration with the
UC Center for Integrative
Health and Wellness
. Center faculty members will interface with
Turner Farm’s kitchen to teach medical students, nurses,
physicians and other health care professionals and students about
integrative health practices and principles, with a focus on food
as medicine for patients and themselves.
Eisenberg is founder of Healthy Kitchens/Healthy Lives, an
initiative of Harvard University and the Culinary Institute of
America (CIA) launched in 2007 that brings health professionals
from around the country to participate in a series of seminars led
by Harvard researchers and cooking workshops led by CIA
"This medical school (UC College of Medicine) in association
with the teaching kitchen at Turner Farm has assets that no other
medical campus or university has in the United States or in the
world,” says Eisenberg.
Medical schools must be at the forefront of change because
while rates of various diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular
disease and cancer have dropped precipitously during the past four
decades largely due to technological and medical advances evidence
suggests this trend will not continue, explains Eisenberg, who
argues researchers are projecting 100 million Americans are on the
fast-track to developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
"What do we in the medical profession do when our
technological tricks are exhausted?” says Eisenberg. "There
is evidence that children in America today will live shorter lives
than their parents for the first time in our history.”
Improving health outcomes will mean changing daily behaviors
and physicians and patients will have to learn how to choose,
properly prepare and consume meals in ways that improve health,
says Eisenberg. In a society where many Americans are battling
stress and feeling their time is increasingly constrained,
overeating and the choice of "quick” processed foods are
often the result, he says.
Eisenberg prefers a Mediterranean diet consisting of a high
concentration of vegetables, grains and olive oil with only modest
meat consumption. He
referenced a study
which followed 7,500 people in Spain for a
five-year period found that individuals on a Mediterranean diet had
a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Mastering the techniques of mindfulness—focusing
one’s awareness on the present moment and seeing things as
they are without judgement—can help lower stress and allow
individuals to remain present when preparing and consuming meals
with family, says Eisenberg.
referenced a scientific study
conducted by Harvard University
which showed that individuals who eat a home at least five nights a
week could cut their risk of Type 2 diabetes. The researchers
followed 100,000 individuals for more than 20 years monitoring
their diet and found individuals who ate at home more often could
cut their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 15 percent.
Author Charles Duhigg of "The Power of Habit” coined a
phase "key habits” to describe habits that have the power to
transform an individual’s life, says Eisenberg. Nutrition,
mindfulness and exercise, which often goes hand-in-hand with better
eating, are keystone habits, he says.
Pamela Baker, PhD, associate dean for medical education, says
Eisenberg’s talk was provocative because it challenges the
culture of medicine.
"Let’s help our students model what they need to teach
their patients and one of the focuses needs to be nutrition,”
says Baker. "Teaching kitchens are a great start, but this needs to
be happening in home kitchens. We need to explore what it is about
our culture in the United States and other parts of the world where
cooking at home is not happening enough anymore to ensure healthy
"We need to talk more about nutrition and healthy eating
habits and how we can do it on a budget,” says
Sian Cotton, director of the UC Center for Integrative Health
and Wellness agreed.
"UC’s Academic Health Center is taking the lead locally,
and joining many other highly ranked institutions nationally, to
teach the next generation of upcoming health care providers the
value of healthy behaviors, personal responsibility, and choosing
wellness – both personally and professionally,” says
Cotton, an associate professor of medicine.
"It is a movement in our community that is exciting,
unstoppable, and critical for the well-being of our children and
grandchildren,” says Cotton. "We look forward to partnering
with the Turner Farm Teaching Kitchen and many others to move
health and wellness initiatives forward more robustly in our
For more information on the Center’s programs and
initiatives contact Lisa Doogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call
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