Veterans Health Administration Uses Food As Medicine In Their Local Community

Veterans Health Administration Uses Food As Medicine In Their Local Community

After attending The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) several times and Food As Medicine (FAM) this past summer*, I continue to find the information to be brilliant. I purchased the FAM DVD and audio cassettes to share with our VA staff. Recently, our nutrition service received a grant to expand our weight management nutrition and exercise program into the local community.

US Department of Veteran Affairs logoThis expansion is one of the first times the Veterans Health Administration is working with community resources. We are reaching out to rural areas in three states by providing local health agencies with materials, Powerpoints, and training on how to conduct a program within their communities free of charge. Throughout the program we encourage many of the Food As Medicine principles. Our topics include choosing whole foods, eliminating highly processed, genetically-modified foods, stress management, physical activity, effects of sleep deprivation, and chronic inflammation on body weight and overall health. We have even worked to incorporate Dr. James Gordon’s audio on mindfulness (soft belly breathing) into this program.

The response from program trainers and participants has been overwhelmingly positive. We have already trained 55 trainers to teach our classes at the local level. Last year, we were able to reach 284 community members and 118 veterans through this program. This year, with the new material, we hope to expand our program even further to reach over 150 veterans and 300 community members. Some of the feedback we have received from the trainers and partnering agencies include “It was a great learning experience and well-rounded program”, “Very proud to be a partner in this program”, and “Loved it!” We are very excited to see the growth of this program with the potential it has. We owe some of the success to the excellent Food As Medicine conference that we were able to be a part of. Food As Medicine has truly been a life-changing experience for me and I am sending 3 more staff to the program this year.

*I think the combination of The Institute for Functional Medicine and Food As Medicine programs is fabulous. IFM delivers the science in detail and FAM provides practical, on-the-ground clinical practice information along with food and cooking instruction and the mindbody piece. I highly recommend attending both.

About the Author(s)

Sandy Long, RD, CNSC

Sandy Long, RD, CNSC is the Chief of Clinical Nutrition Services at a VA Medical Center in Illinois. Their twelve facilities serve 45,000 veterans in three states. Her team provides monthly training to 15 dietitians that incorporate these new principles into many different areas of the hospital, rehab facilities; pain, and diabetes and weight management clinics.

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