LSU medical students are back on the Nicholls State University campus in Thibodaux for a two-week program that gives them a taste of culinary and nutritional skills.
The Culinary Medicine Program, launched in 2019, is a partnership between LSU Medical School of New Orleans and Chef John Folse Culinary Institute of Nicholls. It is sponsored by the Thibodaux Regional Health System.
The five LSU students start their day in class with a lecture on nutrition theory, studying diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In the afternoon, they go to the cooking school to concoct recipes related to what they have learned.
Last week, the students made recipes from different cultures. Sam Baker made borscht, a beetroot soup of Ukrainian origin, which was a hit with the rest of the class.
On Thursday, students focused on recipes that support pregnancy and adolescence. They cooked three different soups incorporating ginger, baked cookies that help promote lactation, and produced vegetable rolls that involve kids.
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This is the second time that instructor and chef Jana Billiot has taught the class, which she says highlights how important food can be at every stage of life.
“The medical students are so awesome. They are very focused and disciplined, ”said Billiot.
Once the cooking is finished, all the students get together to taste everything and give their opinion.
“We open the session with skills in knives, hygiene and just basic information on cooking techniques. And then I’m just there to help them along the way. They make the recipes, they make the cut, they cook, ”said Billiot. “I’m here to give them advice and show them little tips and nuance things that will help them. “
Thibodaux regional CEO Greg Stock said he was happy to be able to collaborate with Nicholls and LSU and the students.
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“They work with the Nicholls Culinary School and they have toured our facilities, talked with our trainers, and we have described and shown them the programs and services that are in the building,” he said.
Dietitian Leah Porche helps with the nutrition aspect of the course. Porche said the class builds relationships in the areas of health and cooking.
“Having partnerships with doctors and other health care providers makes my job more efficient and, honestly, easier. And being able to talk to these guys at their stage of education and share with them the things a dietitian can do to help them and their patients is so important, ”said Porche. “I hope if there’s one thing they can take away from me, it’s that they remember that dietitians and physiotherapists, occupational therapists, we’ve got you covered.”
Student Ushma Bhandary said the class helped bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical application.
“We know nutrition is important,” Bhandary said. “But here we can tell the patient here that there are tangible ways to do it and make it more accessible.”