Nutrition Meets Health in ICOM’s New Culinary Medicine Course

From the classroom to the kitchen, a new course at ICOM is giving medical students an opportunity to learn about the interplay between nutrition, medicine and patient care. The College’s Culinary Medicine course made its debut in late October, and provides in-the-kitchen instruction to guide medical students in improving health with food. 

(L-R) Student Doctors Dylan Cooper, Catalina O’Toole, and Hayden Pastorini.

This 6-lesson elective course is open to ICOM’s second-year students and is directed by Dr. Sarah Davis, DO, and co-directed by Dr. Gary Brandecker, MD. A combination of didactics and hands-on culinary sessions — which take place at Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) — provide students with a unique combination of nutrition and culinary knowledge to assist patients in achieving and maintaining optimal health. 

Dr. Sarah Davis, DO, leads ICOM’s Culinary Medicine elective.

“Osteopathic medicine emphasizes a whole person treatment approach, as well as guiding the body to its innate ability to self-regulate and self heal,” said Dr. Davis. “How we nourish our bodies is paramount in this process —preventing disease, maintaining health, and recovering from illness. Culinary medicine complements the osteopathic philosophy. Learning about food, how it is prepared or processed and understanding the impacts of such on our health, both the negative and positive effects, allows us to address the relationship of structure and function, even at the cellular level.”

Diet is an important and modifiable factor that influences health and wellness, which is why Student Doctor Katlyn Grootendorst, a second-year student at ICOM, decided to enroll in the course. 

(L-R) Student Doctors Hayden Pastorini and Priyanka Vayalali.

“I really wanted to learn about nutrition, not only for myself, but for my future patients,” said Student Doctor Grootendorst. “We’re an osteopathic school and so we’re targeting the patient not only as an individual, but as an entire being and looking at every aspect of their health care. Being with my classmates and learning about nutrition will be immensely beneficial to us as future doctors.” 

The course utilizes the “Cooking Up Health” curriculum developed by faculty from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University in partnership with the non-profit community organization, Common Threads. Students learn an array of culinary skills and techniques from McKenzie Joyner, a Boise-based private chef, holistic nutritionist, and owner of Sprouting-Vitality. 

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