Last year, the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) was honored to participate in the White House Conference for Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Out of that initiative, a nutrition and medicine task force in AMWA has been meeting and AMWA made the following commitment:
AMWA understands the impact of nutrition on health and disease and the role of food as medicine in the care of patients. AMWA commits to incorporating healthy nutrition into AMWA conferences and promoting this education in all AMWA branches. We will advocate for clinical curricula that address nutritional issues and the barriers posed by social and structural determinants of health.
We are particularly thrilled to partner with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) to provide their Lifestyle Medicine & Food as Medicine Essentials Course free of charge for AMWA members. This curriculum provides a foundational, evidence-based introduction to the field, and focused nutrition education for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
“Health is dependent on our ability to care for ourselves and to help others. Lifestyle Medicine is essential and allows for physicians to have a better understanding of the importance of one’s lifestyle in the development of disease and the health of all,” says AMWA President Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber. “More and more, physicians are recognizing the importance of behavioral modification in the management of medical conditions, particularly chronic diseases.”
Dr. John McHugh, co-chair of the ACLM Women’s Health Interest Group reflects on the impact of this training on his own practice. “Our patients are searching for information about nutrition and lifestyle change that is proven and effective. Lifestyle medicine has helped me address their concerns and separate fact from fiction. Just as importantly it has really restored the joy I find in helping people get back on track with their health.”
Dr. Bisi Alli, a member of AMWA’s board of directors, is board certified in lifestyle medicine. She states, “Lifestyle medicine is about evidence-based tools that benefit everyone, by focusing on nurturing activities, eating fruit and vegetables, exercising, managing stress, sleep and taking timed mindful breaks. It places health preservation and health equity more in the hands of patients. This is the people’s medicine and thankfully, side effects are rare.”
Dr. Masina Wright, chair of AMWA’s Nutrition and Medicine Task Force, comments on the impact of this program. “As a physician, I had 2 hours of nutrition training in medical school and none in internal medicine residency. And yet our patients expect us to be knowledgeable on food and nutrition resources and advice. As professionals, we are at risk of sending our biases out into the world as gospel without education to back our opinions with evidence. This course offers 5.5 hours of foundational grounding in the premises of food as medicine which will certainly benefit our patients threefold, no matter what specialty we practice in.”
Dr. Cindy Geyer, fellow of ACLM and cochair of their Women’s Health Member Interest Group says, “After 25 years of lifestyle-focused clinical practice, I continue to be inspired by the improvements in many patients’ symptoms, health metrics, and overall sense of wellbeing and self -efficacy that can result from eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing movement, prioritizing sleep and connecting with others. The Food as Medicine Essentials Course provides a great review of the latest nutrition science for disease prevention and management that can benefit the health of both patients and clinicians.”
For those who are interested in becoming certified in lifestyle medicine, visit lifestylemedicine.org.