BLOG: Own Your Chef
Author: Genny Komar
Published: Friday, January 27 2012
Coming into this internship I had a different background than most DPD undergraduates. Most DPD programs are geared towards science and understanding human physiology and how it all is affected by nutrition. All programs have to go through a rigorous certification program to be accredited as a DPD program, so for all intents and purposes every program contains the same content. Yet, like every patient that we see as dietitians and interns, everybody is different.
I am a proud graduate of a DPD culinary program, and self-professed foodie. I live and breathe food, recipes, and ingredients. I would rather be in the kitchen cooking, teaching how to cook, and just having fun with food rather than thinking about how the delicious fresh bread I am making will be metabolized through the glycolysis pathway in my body. My approach to nutrition, just like my DPD education, is different and somewhat a reversal of modern dietetics. I see food first, then how to use it to maintain a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. As interns we are counseled and shown how to educate patients on the importance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals during interactions. We impress upon them the importance of including those nutrients throughout their daily meals and snacks, and how it will improve their health. Yet the most basic, and fundamental topic is not addressed...
How do you cook it?
One of my preceptors taught me one of the most important lessons I have received in this internship, though it was a gradual realization to me, to Own Your Chef. This means take pride in your cooking skills, no matter what level, and use them whenever possible. As dietitians, we are the first and foremost experts on food and nutrition. Not only should dietitians know how it works within our bodies, but we should be able to show others how to work with it as a whole; not just nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Not everyone is Martha Stewart or Julia Childs, but here are just a few ideas on how to be a chef and incorporate it into you educations:
- Know your current culinary level, no one is expecting you to show them how to make a soufflé. Start with easy to follow and re-create recipes; build and grow from there.
- Be inventive. Try new ingredients and cooking techniques, even if it turns out wrong. You will be able to share that wisdom/mistake later on to help your patient.
- Gather and save recipes. As you try new things, save the ones you like. Ask friends and family for favorite dishes and secret tips; as it will help develop a delicious database of recipes.
- Talk about food!! Talk to anyone who will listen about food, preferably patients, but be involved and share stories. It is surprising how food is a great unifier. Everybody eats!
- EAT!!!! Try new and different foods. You won’t know if you like it until you try it!
As a chef, and future dietitian, I try to use my different skill set as much as possible. Oddly enough, it has come in handy more than once, and has many times surprised people. Knowledge is power, so use the power of food!