Food as a Tool: Lessons from TEDMED 2013

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • I attended a really interesting conference this spring: TEDMED 2013. There was a lot going on at TEDMED but for me, as it often does, it ultimately came down to the food. It began with a crouton: Not just any crouton, but perhaps the best crouton I've ever had. I don't know why or how it was so good, but I do know that this crouton was selected with care, adhering to a food strategy that would help a sea of health and health care devotees view the "health tool" of food selection through a different lens. And that's what TEDMED does best: It inspires us to see things differently, using a different lens.

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    TEDMED is not just another conference but, rather, an experience. An experience inclusive of the food they provide attendees as well as the way they present this food. The organizers present a bounty of unusual and unusually presented plant- and grain-based selections, allowing the sampling of a range of options one wouldn't normally get on a daily basis. And offering small plates rather than the regular, adult size ones we are so accustomed as Americans. In doing so, the organizers are relaying the message that it is important to talk the talk but even more important to walk the walk. We, as those seeking innovative solutions in health and health care, need to be thoughtful of our everyday choices - what we choose to put into our bodies as nourishment as no small matter. If we could begin to approach the notion of food as a tool in our health arsenal, couldn't we prime ourselves for enormous health gain at both the individual and community level?


    I've often found it extremely ironic that at most health and wellness conferences or meetings that provide food for attendees, the fare is usually fat-laden, sugar-riddled and nutritionally deficient. It's a focus less on "what we do" and more on "what we say to do."


    I guess for me it must really be all about the food because that's often the first thing I notice about such gatherings. And it's the first thing that came back to me from last year's TEDMED: How cool it was that they focused on that plant- and grain-based menu for the entire conference. And this year, as they did it again, the memories came flooding back.


    Oh yes, TEDMED is broaching innovative and novel thoughts, including discussion and demonstration of cutting-edge technologies. But what really strikes me is that so much of what we cover and take deep dives into is the stuff that is accessible to everyone. Stuff like making healthier choices and approaching food as a tool in reaching health goals. Just one more reason why I love the TEDMED crew so much.


    For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. 

Published On: May 14, 2013