Food as Medicine

Updated: Mar 18, 2019


Any and every social media site has thousands of people talking and posting about this topic every day. With rising healthcare and medication costs, people are looking, to improve and alter their health for the better.

Why Food as Medicine?

Let’s face it, food has been used by mankind ever since the first human stepped on this planet. Once discarded as grandma’s recipes and fixes, now these food-associated remedies are coming back as a formidable force. And the current generations are complementing this with life style edits such as exercise, and meditation. The use of food as a source is a great approach for wellness and possibly helping reducing rising healthcare costs.

The food-as-medicine movement has been around for decades, but it's making inroads as physicians and medical institutions make food a formal part of treatment, rather than relying solely on medications.

By prescribing nutritional changes or launching educational programs they're trying to prevent, limit or even reverse disease by changing what and how patients eat (variety, options, mindful eating).

Food is medicine – it is part of health care– and the leadership will be called upon to help build a healthy food and nutrition culture within their institutions and across systems. Educating and eating go hand in hand!

My opinion is the mission of healthcare food service is-

· Food complements treatment

· Food could be used to prevent, reduce recurrence, and heal

· No one food is magical,

In healthcare foodservice consider a menu revamp, recipe reengineering, herb menus, leaf and lettuce menus, and a Food Farmacy (where doctors and/or dietitians write scripts for fruits, vegetables and herbs).

Food ingredients are being used for curative and healing purposes S

The interesting part is that this topic is not limited only to healthcare avenues but every foodservice venue is diving into this initiative. Featuring ingredients and promoting their positive impact on our eating lifestyles.

Healthcare costs are rising and people just don’t want to pump their bodies with unnecessary medication. Guests are demanding it. We as foodservice operators have to offer value to our customers, exceed their expectations and partner with them for healthy options.

Some factors that operators should consider when offering food offerings are

· Guest needs and demographics. What is it that your population demanding.

· Safe and steady supply of the ingredients. I’d love to put raw jackfruit and bitter melon on my menu but can your vendor provide the quantities you need or do you buy from the local supplier?

· Culinary execution. Do you have the skills and other resources to create and deliver what you envision at your site?

· Cost effectiveness. Even though this is taking somewhat of a backseat when dealing with ‘food as medicine”, the product has to be affordable and sustainable by your operation.

· Customer feedback.

Here are some ideas that we have created a fan base at our site. Items that can be replicated or tweaked to suit your needs.

  • Spice Menu: Freshly wilted spinach. Sauté and add a flavoring. Give patients the choice. EVOO, garlic, nutmeg, salt or straight up natural.

  • Herb menu. All of our food for patients is cooked with no added salt nor, fat. As more people are prescribed a low sodium diet, fresh chopped herbs help with the taste buds transition. Thus, contributing to the person’s overall nutrition. We started with 3 simple herbs- cilantro, basil, and parsley. Snipped to order based on guest requests and the dishes they ordered. Consider growing your own microgreens. Visually appealing and flavor enhancing

  • Condiment menu- for example hemp, Chia and flax seeds. The availability, ease of handling and perception helps add value to the guest experience. All adding extra nutrients, flavoring and visually to the plate.

  • Grilled Fresh Vegetables Menu. Adds nutrient and aesthetics value.

  • Berry Menu: The most popular super-food, is berries and can available year around.

  • Tea Menu- options gives patients a choice and including items such as Green tea or varieties thereof better nutritional and tasting

No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.” Maimonides (1135-1204)

Guest Blogger:

Aatul Jain, CDM Sr. Executive Chef, St. Peter’s University Hospital, NJ

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