Last Fall, I spoke at a local church group with the intended topic being general "heart health". After I completed the talking points that I had brought and wanted to cover, I spent an additional hour or so answering questions which strayed far, far away from heart health. At one point I ended up explaining why you might get a tingle in your legs from sitting on the toilet for an extended period of time. Another major topic of questions was diet and how to find and eat the right foods. Since my wife and I cook all the time and we eat pretty healthy, it was easy for me to provide practical advice.
I was reminded about this experience when I came across an article in American Medical News discussing a collaboration between Harvard and the Culinary Institute of America. Together, they sponsor conferences, some of which are aimed at getting doctors to better understand how one goes about actually "making" food. So, while few of my patients want or need to take classes from a culinary institute, it certainly makes sense for doctors to have practical cooking advice so they can tell patients how to eat more healthy and cook at home for themselves. The reason this is so important is that by cooking at home, at least you know what you are putting in your food, you have more control over the contents, and you can depend on yourself to reduce sodium or added sugars and fats. (FYI, a quick Google search yielded a survey done by Whole Foods in 2009 that found about 1 in 5 Americans rarely or never cook at home.)