Doctors learn to cook so they can practice what they prescribe

CHICAGO – “Don’t be intimidated” is good advice for anyone learning how to cook, and even better advice for a room full of doctors and nurses hoping to learn more about healthy eating.

Dr. Stephen Devries is a cardiologist and associate professor at Northwestern University and the Executive Director of the Gaples Institute, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to teach medical professionals about the importance of nutrition and lifestyle changes when it comes to the prevention of heart disease.

“Really sadly, nutrition and lifestyle are not a part of medical school or the training that comes after medical school to any significant degree,” Dr. Devries said. “It’s returning back to where healthcare began.”

And that’s where the Gaples Institute hopes to bridge the gap.  Dozens of medical professional from around the Chicago area are spending the day at Kendall College for a hands-on cooking conference.

“I wanted to do it for myself,” said Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Keith Bensuly. “I think the best way I can communicate things like that to my patient is by being a good example.”

As an interventional cardiologist at Northwestern, Dr. Bensuly puts in stents and treats patients who have heart attacks, partly because they haven’t been following a healthy diet.

“It’s much easier if we as physicians can just write a prescription for something but lifestyle change is hard work,” Dr. Bensuly said.

And now that more and more patients are asking, even demanding more information about how to make healthier choices, Dr. Devries hopes to arm medical professionals with the dietary information that has been overlooked as the emphasis has been put on high tech medical procedures and pills.

“It’s not one versus the other, it’s not medicine or nutrition, it’s the best of both,” Dr. Devries said.