By Jo Cooper
Interested in teaching your patients, colleagues, family or community members about the value of eating healthy foods? I have two words to suggest: feed them.
You can talk to people all you like about the science, but there’s nothing like a mouthful of delicious food to get their attention. Anyone who’s attended our Food As Medicine Professional training program will concur (In fact, good luck getting them to stop talking about the food once you’ve got them started). Chef Rebecca Katz’s wildly popular, colorful buffets are what we formally call “the experiential part of the training,” but privately acknowledge as our secret weapon for getting the skeptical on board. I’ve never known it to fail.
So, when we received funding some years ago to train 40 health professionals working in inner city Baltimore at Food As Medicine and to provide follow up support as they returned to their communities, we knew the follow up would have to include “an experiential” component. Food demos with tastings and a delicious catered lunch during a daylong workshop made an obviously positive impression, and a half-day workshop entitled Eating Healthy Economically included more food tastings and warmly welcomed take-home gifts of canisters of steel cut oats.
One story a workshop participant shared that I dearly love involved a day at her office, when, as fate would have it, none of her colleagues had brought lunch to work. She’d been longing to influence them to eat more healthy, so she volunteered to run to Whole Foods and pick up fixings for a family style meal for $2 a person. Something of a miracle — they agreed. When she returned, one person had cleaned the table, another had laid out plates and eating utensils, another person helped wash the lettuce, another started cutting up the tomatoes… and her staff made lunch together. She said they laughed, talked, and enjoyed teasing each other through an unaccustomed but fun meal — so much so that they’ve been doing it every week since.
And that’s the seasoning that tastes best: community.
Thank you to Daemon Jones, ND, Victoria Proctor, RN, MS and Derek Neal, CHHC for your loving and professional partnership in the Baltimore Nutrition Group. You are awesome