October 29


Doctors Prescribing Veggies for #Disease?

By Sue Ingebretson

October 29, 2013

culinary school, disease, doctors, lifestyle disease, medical school, medicine, National Public Radio, NPR



We all know where to go to treat a medical crisis, right? For broken bones, excessive bleeding, or other dire immediate concerns dash over to your nearest hospital emergency room. Even better, call 9-1-1. But, where should we go for the kinds of symptoms that ebb and flow, and don’t really seem to go away? In other words, what’s the best place to go for chronic illness?

A recent news story says that place is as near as your kitchen.

A report – airing on National Public Radio – profiled coverage of Lifestyle Diseases which is a phrase we’ve heard bouncing around for years. It typically refers to the obesity and diabetes epidemic but can broadly apply to chronic conditions that are affected by lifestyle choices (nutrition, fitness, relationships, etc.) as well as lifestyle circumstances such as environment and stress.

Even though this is old news, what piqued my interest was mention of chefs and doctors – together – looking to learn more about nutrition. Tulane University is actually partnering with a culinary school to help their medical students learn about using foods as medicine. What a crazy idea!

Well, I’m all for a little crazy now and then.

At least – I’m all for the concept.

Let me start off by stating that I’m not all that encouraged by who Tulane chose to partner with. A culinary school for nutrition advice? That’s sort of like buying a wardrobe based on a Kate Moss fashion show. The clothes may look good, but that has nothing to do with their practicality. Or, even more important – how they’ll look on you.

Foods are the same way. Some may taste great – and even make a great presentation – but that has nothing to do with how they fuel the body nutritionally. There’s no substitute for whole, natural, nutrition-dense and fiber-rich foods.

When the report mentioned using marshmallows in their recipes (supposedly to provide energy for visiting athletes), I wanted to cry.Doctors-Prescribing-Veggies

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m anti-marshmallow. The point is that if I choose to have one, I’ll do so without delusions about it having any nutritional benefits. And, if I were responsible for feeding athletes who’ve just completed a workout, the last thing I’d do is feed them empty-calorie and energy-stealing sugary pseudo foods.

But then … I sniffled a little and got over it.

I have an appreciation for the fact that what the medical school is trying to do is at least a step in the right direction. They’re making an attempt to pair the two schools of thought – medicine and nutrition – and seek out higher knowledge. It’s my hope that this trend continues because understanding the impact of what we eat should be JOB ONE when it comes to healthcare.

For far too long, “traditional” medicine has been traditionally bereft of nutritional know-how. The established medical model (tests for diagnostics and medicine or surgery for treatment) works well for trauma, but not for chronic conditions. Rebuilding the body from the inside out is the go-to protocol – with nutrition providing the fundamental building blocks to do so.

Using foods as medicine is not a new idea. Holistic nutritionists, naturopaths and other natural health professionals have been schooled in it for centuries. Using foods for prevention and treatment of disease is as old as the hills and its merit has withstood the test of time.

For now, simply write yourself a prescription for kale, cabbage, spinach, and broccoli. Got berries, avocados, and coconut? Fabulous! It’s time to turn the tables and trade Lifestyle Disease for Lifestyle Ease!

Do you write your own nutritional prescriptions? Share your favorite nutritional tip here with the rest of the community!


Sue Ingebretson

Interested in co-creating your own program to heal from the inside out? Check out Sue’s Rebuilding Wellness site – and click on the Work With Sue tab to learn more.

  1. Marshmallows? REally!?

    I’m all for the trend to start looking more at diet as a cause (and solution) of our health issues, but in doing that we need to look at actual healthy choices. One big issue is what our gov calls healthy is largely responsible for many of the issues. Let’s stuff everyone with whole grains and call it good… and then GMO the heck out of said Whole Grains so that our bodies can’t even process them. GLWT.

  2. I’ve found the book Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford to be very helpful in choosing foods to eat. My acupuncturist recommended it to me last year and eating to heal my particular imbalances – deficiency of kidney yang and blood stagnation – has really helped. After reading about the things whole foods do for our bodies, I wonder how anyone survives without eating whole foods!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Trisha. I’m a big fan of Paul Pitchford, too and have been fortunate enough to hear him speak 😉 Thanks for the great input!

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson