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Using Food as Medicine to Combat Chronic Illness

Fresh & Savory Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine Program

In the video above, community members and Dr. Theresa Stone, co-founder and medical director of the Fresh & Savory Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine program, discuss benefits of culinary medicine and lifestyle changes to promote better health.

Lezetta Moyer grows vegetables and herbs in her garden. She lives an active lifestyle, even at the age of 74. Her mother was a dietician, so she’s always been conscious of what she eats. And yet, she still has hypertension.  

“It runs in my family, so it seemed unavoidable,” says the retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer. “But I didn’t like the idea of taking medications for the rest of my life.”  

So when her primary care physician, Theresa Stone, MD, at MedStar Health at Lafayette Centre, invited her to participate in a program demonstrating how to keep her blood pressure under control with simple lifestyle changes, she jumped at the opportunity.  

Lezetta participates in Fresh & Savory Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine, an innovative program founded in 2017 by Dr. Stone and other physicians at the MedStar Institute for Innovation. Fresh & Savory focuses on a “teaching kitchen” concept, where patients learn culinary and other lifestyle skills that promote better health.  

“We saw the need to offer something more than medication and procedures to help control cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Stone, who adds that the idea of “culinary medicine” intrigues many of her patients.  

Participants enroll in the program for eight weeks, and meet weekly at the Sports Performance Center at MedStar Lafayette for 90-minute sessions. The program includes fall and spring cycles, with an average of 15 people per session.  

The classes are shared medical appointments, allowing each class to serve as a doctor’s visit with insurance carriers. 

Diet, exercise, stress reduction, mindfulness, and sleep are some of the topics covered in the first 20 minutes of class, followed by a cooking session in the teaching kitchen. On “Ask the Doc” night, a MedStar physician joins the group to answer questions and engage in discussion while they all enjoy the prepared meal for the evening. 

For Lezetta, Fresh & Savory came into her life just in time. 

“One day while I was in my garden, I hurt my knee,” she says, adding that the 15 pounds she lost through the program made her recovery much easier. “To me, that just proves that food really is medicine.”

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