Culinary Medicine: Cooking Up Health
The Culinary Medicine Course: Cooking Up Health is offered by the Osher Center for Integrative Health for Feinberg School of Medicine medical students. AOSC students in integrative medicine are encouraged to enroll as part of our IM education track.
Culinary Medicine is the utilization of a unique combination of nutrition and culinary knowledge to assist patients in achieving and maintaining optimal health. This course is intended to expand students’ comfort in counseling patients in successful behavior change around nutrition and cooking. The "learning" portion of the course includes a combination of pre-work/videos/didactics and hands-on culinary sessions focused on plant-based diets. Through this course, participants will learn basic culinary skills, steps to create nutritious meals, relationships between food, health and disease and cultural competencies around nutrition.
Watch a Video from the Class Become a Trainer for This Course
The Culinary Medicine elective is approved for credit by the curriculum committee. If taken by M1/2 students, it does not displace any elective requirements for Phase 2-3 students. Class time will be faculty-guided and discussion-based. Groups are comprised of up to 16 students led by one to two faculty facilitators.
Schedule for the M1-M2 elective:
- Monday-Friday: Synchronous and asynchronous sessions where you are introduced to the evidence behind plant-based nutrition; role of macro and micronutrients and how deficiencies manifest; nutrition-disease connections; the role of medicinal spices; and nutrition approaches for underserved communities.
- 6 Virtual Cooking Sessions: You'll be provided with grocery lists and recipes ahead of time, and then we'll cook together as you learn how to slice and dice like a pro.
- 4 In-Person Service Learning: Share your culinary health knowledge with CPS elementary school students as you assist teachers and chefs in the classroom. These service learning classes are typically held on Fridays.
Schedule for the M3-M4 two-week elective:
- Monday-Friday: Synchronous and asynchronous sessions where you learn the evidence behind plant-based nutrition; role of macro and micronutrients and how deficiencies manifest; nutrition-disease connections; the role of medicinal spices; and nutrition approaches for underserved communities.
- 3-4 Virtual Cooking Sessions: You'll be provided with grocery lists and recipes ahead of time, and then we'll cook together as you learn how to slice and dice like a pro.
Goals & Objectives
Culinary medicine molds culinary concepts and medical education into a hands-on interdisciplinary experience. This elective will provide future clinicians with a knowledge base of diet, lifestyle and nutrition and how they relate to disease. The purpose is to increase medical student performance in core competencies, such as counseling patients with dietary concerns, and to teach nutrition as it relates to disease such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and autoimmune disorders. Students will utilize kitchen tools, explore plant-based meals and the use of substitute ingredients in meals, discuss behavior change strategies regarding diet with patients and incorporate healthy behaviors into both their personal life and medical practice. It is expected that the experience of working in a teaching kitchen will foster student comfort in cooking nutritious meals, which they can share with their patients.
At the completion of this elective students will:
- Understand how a healthy diet can be incorporated into patient-centered and disease specific care. Discuss diet with patients and offer basic advice regarding healthy food choices and preparation of meals, for the prevention, reversal and/or management of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and functional bowel disorders.
- Develop a practical skill set to facilitate patient coaching and self-care such as using kitchen tools and equipment, locating healthy food choices in grocery stores and incorporating appropriate ingredients for meal recommendations.
- Master basic culinary skills to prepare healthy meals, with the goal of modeling this behavior in their own lives.
- Evaluate barriers to maintaining a healthy diet and engage in shared patient-centered problem solving as it pertains to health promotion and disease prevention through selection and preparation of healthy meals.
- Discuss the social and philosophical impact of issues such as cost, availability, culture, education, location, religion and morality in diet habits, and the importance of taking these factors into consideration when relating to the patient.
This elective is designed to facilitate the student’s mastery of the following defined competencies:
- An understanding and knowledge of core nutrition concepts and how they relate to the prevention and management of chronic disease
- The ability to guide a patient through recommended dietary changes such as how to:
- Discuss diet modifications with patient with chronic disease
- Explain whole-foods and plant-based diets in basic terms
- Define and identify macronutrients
- Prepare balanced meals
- An awareness of cultural competency in regard to nutrition and food choices, food access and socioeconomic considerations
- Increased confidence in practical applications of nutrition self-care, such as how to:
- Stock a kitchen with staple items
- Create a menu/shopping list for week of healthy meals/snacks
- Budget time and money to prepare healthy food during the week
A commitment to all weeks in the elective is required, as well as an understanding that this is a medical school elective and pre-work/assignments are mandatory as a key part of the learning. Unexpected/planned absences should be discussed ahead of time with Dr. Ring.
Students will be evaluated on:
- Attendance to, and participation in, group sessions
- Completion of weekly assignments between classes
- Completion of virtual cooking classes
- Attendance to, and participation in, service learning classes (M1/2)
- Completion of online surveys prior to and at the end of the course including course evaluations, reflections and assessments of their perceived knowledge, skills and confidence regarding food, cooking and nutrition
Application & Prerequisites
This course is intended for students with a strong interest in the role of nutrition in health; prior cooking experience is not needed. The focus of the culinary sessions is on whole-food plant-based diets and is suitable for vegans, vegetarians or omnivores. If you don't have access to a kitchen/equipment, then you can participate and watch the demos like a cooking show.
The Culinary Medicine elective is approved for credit by the curriculum committee. If taken by M1/2 students, it does not displace any subsequent Phase 2-3 elective requirements. Only Feinberg School of Medicine students may apply.
Students must submit a brief paragraph by email to the clerkship director, Melinda Ring, MD, introducing themselves, indicating the reason for desired participation, confirming the ability to attend all teaching kitchen and community sessions and committing to complete all assignments.
Maximum enrollment is 16 students per session. If there are more applicants than spots available, students able to attend all sessions and expressing appropriate interest in the learning content will be accepted in the order in which the application is received.
2023-24 Dates & Facilitators
The fall 2023 elective is available for M1-M2 students. Sept-Dec. Exact dates to be updated soon. (Unit 6a).
The winter 2024 elective is available for M3-M4 students Feb. 12 - Feb. 23 (Unit 6a).
The 2023-24 academic year faculty facilitators from the Osher Center for Integrative Health are Melinda Ring, MD, and Anna Shannahan, MD.
For additional information about any of our MD education programs, contact Isra Hassan.