Food Prescription (Rx): Part of Your Plan of Care

Food Prescription (Rx): Part of Your Plan of Care

Food Rx: Practical Culinary Tools for Healthcare Professionals

A partnership between Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH), Sodexo and UF Leon County Extension Office

What is Food Rx?

The Food Rx program is a culinary medicine program designed for healthcare professionals to learn about nutrition and culinary skills in an interactive, hands-on environment. The class is taught by a registered dietitian and chef. The goal of the program is to help healthcare professionals learn about nutrition recommendations, basic food preparation skills, food safety and meal planning to improve their health as well as their patients.

Why is Food Rx important?

If healthcare professionals understand how food can be used as medicine at a personal level and are successful at applying the skills taught in their own lives, they are more likely to share it with their patient population.

Historically, in medical school and physician training, little to no nutrition education is part of the curriculum. This program is designed to help them learn about the barriers their patients have with cooking healthy meals and how to help them in practical and positive ways to achieve their nutrition goals. Some medical school programs are now considering culinary medicine training as part of the curriculum or as an elective offered to medical students.

The Food Rx program has been successfully implemented with the Florida State University College of Medicine students as well as the TMH/FSU Internal Medicine Residents.

Participants increased their knowledge and comfort by more than 50 percent of the following skills:

  • Food safety
  • Meal planning
  • Nutrition guidelines for patient care
  • Safe and effective knife skills

How can Food Rx be used to improve the health of our community?

Nutrition can be taken for granted, and we need to remind ourselves how we can apply food as medicine in the prevention and management of chronic disease. An example of using food as a prescription would be if a patient was diagnosed with hypertension, or high blood pressure. The physician may prescribe a drug prescription, but what about a food prescription? In this case, the food prescription would be the doctor providing the patient with tips on how to reduce sodium in their diet.

Five tips to ensure a food prescription is part of your plan of care:

  1. Ask your doctor what you can do in the areas of nutrition and wellness.
  2. Use ChooseMyPlate.gov for resources on nutrition recommendations and meal planning.
  3. Learn how your chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease can be managed through diet by participating in hands-on nutrition education whenever possible. Some of which are offered by TMH, UF Leon County Extension Office and the Southside Farmers Market.
  4. Use specific goal setting and practice making small lifestyle changes in your everyday life that will make a lasting impact over time.
  5. For one-on-one nutrition counseling, ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian at the TMH Physician Partners Metabolic Health Center at 850-431-5404.

For more information on the Food Rx program, contact Afaf Qasem.

Written by Afaf Qasem, MS, RDN, LDN- Community Wellness Dietitian at TMH

Reviewed and edited by Dawn Springs, MS, RDN, LDN- Director at TMH Physician Partners Metabolic Health Center

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