Monday, March 27Welcome

Promoting health through food with the same origin as medicine and food

Robert Graham, MD, MPH, a board-certified physician in integrative medicine and internal medicine, is also trained as a chef. He is part of a growing culinary medicine movement that blends the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine.

For years, Graham, primarily a vegetarian, has tried to convince doctors, hospital administrators and even insurance companies that nutritious foods can prevent and control chronic diseases such as diabetes. .

He started his first plant-based cooking class for residents in 2010 while working at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital. The class was so popular that it quickly attracted nurses, hospital chefs and administrators and lasted for seven years.

Graham has also made diet a priority in FRESH Medicine, an integrative medicine practice he started with his wife Julie in 2016.

Medscape recently spoke with Graham about his career and how he uses culinary training to improve his health.

medscape: What made you start training as a chef?

Dr. Robert Graham

Graham: Looking back on my career, I really valued my lifestyle as medicine, but my ability to manage my chronic illness lacked food as medicine. , activist and author, Wendell Berry, really struck me. he says: .”

Medscape: You trained as a chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. Why did you choose that school?

Graham: I am a vegetarian and eat very little animal protein when I go out. I chose NGI because of its focus on plant-based, sustainable cuisine. This is in line with my philosophy and the direction I want to take as a chef rather than the traditional French way of cooking.

Medscape: What’s the most important thing you learned?

Graham: That food must be delicious! I learned that vegetables can be delicious. The difference between a cook and a chef is learning how to select the freshest and most delicious fruits, vegetables and animal proteins. The best way to prepare and cook them. And the most beautiful way of presenting them.

medscape: How did you take advantage of your Chef/Culinary Medicine training?

Graham: I consulted with food companies and recently became Chief Health Officer for Performance Kitchen. There, he works as an advisor, designing medically adjusted diets for chronically ill patients. The study shows that patients who ate a medically adjusted diet had fewer hospital and skilled nurse admissions and lower overall health care costs.

To be financially sustainable, we need to partner with medical institutions—I’m talking to some of them—and health insurance companies. Provided Performance Kitchen meals to over 100,000 plan participants through chronic meal benefits for over 100 diagnostic codes, including disease and type 2 diabetes. Other health plans are conducting pilot projects with our meals.

Some Medicare Advantage plans cover medically adjusted meals, but Medicare does not. Rep. James McGovern (D-Massachusetts) introduced the bill in Congress last year. The measure would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to conduct a demonstration program so that hospitals can provide medically adjusted home-delivered meals to Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions. life limit. The bill has not yet passed the House.

Medscape: Do you teach practitioners how to prepare healthy and delicious meals?

Yes, lifestyle medicine physician Rani Polak, MD, and I taught our first class in culinary medicine at the 2015 American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference in Nashville. Since then, I have taught more cooking classes at conferences by ACLM, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the Society of General Internal Medicine.

Medscape: Your practice is called FRESH Medicine. What does the FRESH acronym stand for?

Graham: FRESH stands for the five elements of a recipe for health: diet, relaxation, exercise, sleep and well-being. We put food first. Because research shows that diet plays an important role in the gut microbiome and disease development.

The acronym FRESH was also symbolic for me personally. Because I needed a fresh start in my career. In 2016, after working in a large healthcare organization, I decided to start something new that allowed me to take time to honor and listen to the bond between myself and my patients.

Medscape: Also, you launched a new company, FRESH Med U, with your wife. Describe the online program and who uses it.

We have created an e-learning portal where everyone can access their time. There is a free bundle of his 6-part FRESH Guide and FRESH Course.

This course is popular among businesses looking for portable and virtual wellness products. Born from We realized that we could never get them all together in one of his conference rooms for “lunch and study.”

medscape: Please tell us about FRESH Medicine and the business model of FRESH Medicine.

Graham: We are still looking into hybrid payment methods. FRESH Med U’s first corporate client was the CEO of PSK Supermarket. He hired me as a health and wellness consultant and paid us to provide wellness services and his FRESH Med U. Seminars on meditation, chair yoga, sleep hygiene 101, well-being.

Additionally, employees were able to see me in my private practice and the CEO paid 70% of their costs because I was an out-of-network provider. In addition, we also offer a sliding fee system so that you can continue to use the service even after the contract ends. Negotiations are underway to renew PSK’s wellness services.

We will also be hiring a Home Medicine Nurse Practitioner to work for us to increase access to our primary care patients. This opens up another opportunity to integrate with traditional reimbursement models that accept full coverage for primary care services.

medscape: You’ve been self-employed since 2016. Was the transition difficult? How do you feel now?

Graham: At first, it was difficult to navigate this new world and learn aspects of business (branding, marketing, social media platforms, hiring and firing employees).

I can now say that I am emotionally, mentally and financially rewarded.I have more autonomy and more time to innovate. I make more money, work less, and when I work, I spend time with my loved ones. This is the holy trinity of success.

medscape: Are you helping low-income communities eat healthier?

Graham: Yes, I am a paid medical health consultant at a local senior community center in the Bronx. During the pandemic, I read about diet for health, diet for longevity, blue zone 101, diet for gut health, diet for depression, how to relax as we age, well-being as medicine. Presented a 6-month virtual course.

I personally support The Green Bronx Machine and Harlem Grown, two non-profit organizations that grow sustainable community gardens in highly disadvantaged areas.

Christine Lehmann, MA is senior editor and writer for Medscape Business of Medicine based in the Washington, DC area. She has been featured on WebMD News, Psychiatric News, and The Washington Post. Contact Christine at Clehmann@medscape or Twitter @writing_health.

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