Culinary Medicine Curriculum

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is pleased to offer this curriculum which is based on the foundational work of Michelle Hauser, MD, MS, MPA, FACLM, Chef. The curriculum is available via complimentary download and is intended to be used and implemented in the following settings: medical schools, allied health professional education programs, residency programs, etc.

Dr Hauser created a culinary medicine elective course for medical students at Stanford University School of Medicine in 2017 with assistance from Julia Nordgren, MD, Chef and Stanford colleagues, Maya Adam, MD, Tracy Rydel, MD, Christopher Gardner, PhD, and David Iott, Chef. The course has been extremely well-received. All course students reported improvements in their own diets and their ability to successfully counsel patients on healthy eating, while taking into account culture, time, and resources. At the end of the course, all students understood that a healthy diet can take many forms and should be centered around whole plant foods. The course was consistently oversubscribed, with a waitlist at least equal in number to enrolled students, allowing comparison of outcomes among enrolled students versus waitlisted controls. Students who took the course had highly significant improvements in overall attitudes, knowledge, and behavior around healthy cooking and eating (P value <0.0001) compared with controls.

The success of the course and many requests for dissemination of the curriculum, prompted Dr. Hauser to partner with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) to expand the reach of the curriculum beyond Stanford’s campus. While Culinary Medicine does not endorse a single dietary philosophy, the curriculum as provided here has been designed to focus on whole food, plant-based (WFPB) nutrition. The curriculum also includes concrete strategies for health care providers wishing to partner with their patients on improving dietary choices, thereby assisting them in transitioning along a spectrum to a more plant-centric diet focused on whole foods. The original course was taught by dually trained chef-MDs with nutrition expertise. Understanding that this combination of training is rare among health professionals, the curriculum has been adapted to enable a wide variety of health professionals to teach culinary medicine in their training programs. The goal is to provide students with lessons about healthy diet, tasty food preparation, and dietary behavior change while teaching them to effectively counsel patients via motivational interviewing to do the same. Because patients come from a variety of backgrounds and food traditions, the curriculum introduces the WFPB diet through the lenses of different world flavors and culinary traditions while keeping in mind resource constraints.

Providing healthcare professionals with a strong foundation in Culinary Medicine— including what constitutes a healthy diet and how to find, obtain, and prepare healthy and delicious food— is a key part of educating health professionals to support patients in achieving better health outcomes.

This curriculum represents the work of a team whose goal is to supply a foundation for a culinary medicine course upon which instructors can build and personalize for their individual needs. It was created for health professional training programs (e.g., medical schools, nursing, psychology, and dietetic programs) but is easily adaptable to a variety other educational environments, including residency programs, health and wellness coaching, and masters level courses. To adapt for patient care, patient education, public-facing education, or undergraduate studies, simply omit the portions of the curriculum focused on teaching providers to coach patients on making dietary lifestyle changes—the majority of the curriculum is broadly applicable. We hope that you find the material useful and would appreciate feedback on ways in which the syllabus can be improved, as we see it as ever-evolving!

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