Hosted by the Tulane University School of Medicine, Health Meets Food’s 6th annual Culinary Medicine conference brought together primarily physicians and registered dietitians, as well as nurses, nurse practitioners and even a few pharmacists to bridge the gap between conventional medicine and healthy eating. Along with hands-on cooking classes covering knife skills and anti-inflammatory diets and menus, lecture sessions covered the molecular processes involved in inflammation and aging as well as patient case studies to put the presented knowledge into “practice.” Still, even for a conference committed to bringing health professionals across the spectrum together to advance culinary medicine in the doctor’s office, there were a few surprising agenda items:

  • Joseph Nadglowski, President and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, presented on understanding obesity bias, illuminating the role of health professionals in identifying and eliminating weight stigma and discrimination. A seemingly new topic for the conference attendees, Nadglowski’s session was well received and marked an important opportunity to show how attendees how health professionals need to be allies for these patients to positively impact their health outcomes.
  • Emily M. Broad Leib, Director of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic shared an update on current food policy. Covering everything from the Farm Bill to opportunities in city legislation requiring healthy beverages in restaurants, Broad Leib showcased policy efforts impacting the broader food environment and community where the patients these health professionals treat and counsel reside.

Clearly, the value of approaching patient care with a more holistic lens that considers factors beyond just lab values but a patient’s sleep quality, mental health, environment, and culinary capabilities is great. While this might be novel in some health professional circles, we appreciate that conversations around medicine and healthy eating coexist at Health Meets Food, particularly since the topic of optimal nutrition is complex which was evident in the contradictory research and perspectives shared during the conference. The existence of the meeting and Tulane’s certification in culinary medicine certainly shows health professionals’ rising interest in approaching health holistically which underscores the need to ensure all education is grounded in science. As the momentum builds, we look forward to monitoring developments closely and helping our clients navigate this increasingly growing space.