More doctors prescribing lessons in the kitchen as people search for healthy living

Posted at 4:54 PM, Oct 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-23 23:34:50-04

Michael Carr is a new man these days after dropping more than 150 pounds.  “I wore a size 52 trousers. I’m wearing a size 34 now,” he says.

He was on all kinds of medications for things like cholesterol and diabetes.

He says his doctor made all the difference when she prescribed a brand new lifestyle, explaining it’s a “…combination of cooking, what I ate, and certainly the exercise.”

Salima Ruffin also saw drastic changes once her doctor intervened.

Ruffin says, “She put me on a special diet. She taught me how to eat healthy.  That inspired me so much that I decided to open up a vegan restaurant.”

It’s not uncommon for a doctor to say eat better or lose weight, but Salima and Michael’s doctor, Cardiologist Mimi Guarneri, showed them how in an actual class. 

Dr. Guarneri says, “We have a cooking school. We have a large emphasis on teaching people that food is medicine.”

More and more doctors and medical groups are building classes and teaching kitchens into their practices, or creating preventative food pantries as part of their pharmacies of sorts. 

Dr. Guarneri says this has been the missing link in medicine for years, explaining, “I was taught to tell patients go home and lose weight.  Go home and lower your blood sugar, and, you know, patients would say, ‘How do I do that doctor?’, and most physicians don’t get that in medical school.”

Even that is changing now, as some medical schools add culinary curriculums.  

Some practices are adding programs for kids, low-income families, and people with specific health concerns. 

Patients like Salima and Michael say it’s making a real difference. Salima says, “My blood pressure is totally normal. My cholesterol is lowered.” And Michael adds, “What I eat, how I exercise. These are all part of her RX, as it were, to make sure that I have a lifestyle that’s worthy of living.”