Healthcare professionals will often spout the necessity of healthy eating to their patients, only to discover later on that at-home dietary habits rarely change. Understandably, this can be incredibly frustrating for healthcare leaders who work hard to help people live long, healthy lives, but it’s important to understand why this happens in the first place. As much as it can be easy to think that people simply choose not to make the healthiest eating choices, because they just so happen to really love “junk” food, or they can’t help but opt for a pre-prepared meal, in reality the answer is much more complicated. With food commercials constantly pushing how “good for you” and/or “natural” their products are, an immense lack of foundational nutritional knowledge, and a lifetime of unknown bad habits to break, it can be confusing for patients with special health concerns to enter into regular grocery stores without proper guidance. The good news, however, is that hospitals nationwide are aiming to solve this very problem by introducing special “teaching kitchen” initiatives.
Teaching kitchens, like the Cleveland Clinic’s new series launched just last Spring, provide hospitals with the means to effectively educate entire communities on fundamental culinary skills, important dietary strategies, and local food knowledge – and can be specifically configured to serve the unique needs of any existing healthcare institution.
The National Director of Wellness and Sustainability for Morrison Healthcare, Lisa Roberson, promotes two distinct types of Teaching Kitchen classes, “Burst of Learning” classes, and more in-depth single-subject classes. Burst classes can be any type of brief 10-20 minute training session in which someone knowledgeable comes in to teach a quick, easy recipe that patients can make for themselves at home. You can focus on marinades, sauces, rubs, breakfasts, beverages, salads, and more, without exhausting hardly any time or resources. A single-subject class should be a bit longer, possibly a full hour, and cover everything else a capable at-home chef might need, including knife skills, food safety, easy recipes for when you’re in a hurry, limited ingredient meals, how to properly stock a refrigerator or pantry, allergy/restriction diet compatible recipes, and more.
Morrison and her partners, who now officially operate Teaching Kitchen programs across more than 30 healthcare systems, are convinced that these easy-to-implement efforts will not only significantly “improve health outcomes and build community in healthcare settings,” but will also positively impact patient behavior toward healthier dietary habits. For more information on how to improve the nutrition intake of your patients, while also enhancing their overall satisfaction, check out our various foodservice and nutrition software applications and technologies at Vision Software. Call 629.777.8989, or fill in the free consultation form in the sidebar, to learn more about how our software can positively impact the lives of the patients and visitors you service every day.