Dr. Lani Relucio shares her passion in Culinary Medicine and how food kept her family healthy and safe during the pandemic.
As COVID-19 continues to threaten everybody’s health, some of us have turned to food to serve as our medicine. Mom of 2 and the brains behind Inspired Copywriting, Dr. Lani Relucio had been doing this for a long time especially to manage her chronic health issues. She shares, “A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and traditional medicine had nothing to offer. Culinary Medicine helped me manage my symptoms. Last year, I discovered all my blood tests became negative and I knew that culinary medicine had something to do with it. I also regard it as divine providence that my husband and daughter decided that they want to be vegetarians.”
Culinary Medicine: How Food becomes one’s Medicine
As Dr. Lani Relucio furthered her craft in Culinary Medicine, she saw how it helped people be more mindful of their health. “Culinary Medicine is being able to prepare your personalized food prescription in your own kitchen. One learns how to customize their Food Rx according to their own health needs,” she explains. “We can’t just say low sugar, no sugar, etc. There are certain conditions that need to be met.”
Although it may look like a form of “alternative medicine“, culinary medicine serves more as an additional tool to doctors and clinicians. Dr. Lani shares, “Culinary medicine helps people understand how to use the power of food to build their health using an evidence-based approach. It empowers people to use their kitchens as a source of healing. For instance, an endocrinologist who is trained in Culinary Medicine will not just tell her patients to avoid sugar or processed food. But they will also teach them the benefits of legumes and whole grains, how to prepare and cook them and how much to consume for optimal benefit.”
Getting the family into it
Like any mom, Dr. Lani’s aware of how kids can be picky and critical when trying to turn food into medicine. She shares fondly, “I have a daughter who used to be a self-proclaimed carnivore and was very picky. In fact, both my daughters grew up eating chicken nuggets, French fries, Spam, and Libby’s sausage. But I learned it was better to teach through modeling rather than nagging. Sometimes, we even talk about it in the kitchen which made them more interested in the food. Studies have shown that if we let kids help out in the cooking, they become more interested in it.”
Besides engaging them, Dr. Lani Relucio attributes her success to always being open with her kids about the food they eat. “I’ve always enjoyed the kitchen and was more of an intuitive cook. But learning to cook vegetarian fares of their favorites, listening to their feedback, and not taking negative feedback personally really helped in dealing with my picky eater(s),” she recalls fondly.
The Challenges of Eating and Cooking Healthy
Week vacations were Dr. Lani Relucio’s challenges especially when she’s not sure what cooks put in the food. She shares, “Whenever we go on vacation, it’s hard to track what we eat. Until the day we find more restaurants that consistently adhere to healthy and nutritious ingredients, week-long vacations will always be a challenge.”
Time limits would also sometimes make it hard for her to stick to culinary medicine. “I’m crunched for time and had to resort to processed food like canned or frozen foods,” she admits. “It’s just fortunate that nowadays, we have healthier options in the grocery. We also need to learn how to read and interpret food labels and ingredients and choosing the better deal.”
Culinary Medicine in the Fight Against COVID-19
Besides following the usual public health guidelines to fight COVID-19, she says that it’s possible to also fight it through our home kitchens. “With more time to cook at home, we can embrace healthier options and achieve our health goals. Look at all the free resources on Culinary Medicine and learn how to use the current situation to your advantage. Turn the stagnation into growth by learning a new skill in the kitchen that promotes health,” encourages Dr. Lani Relucio.
She adds Culinary Medicine can fight off the comorbidities that make people more vulnerable to COVID-19. “We’ve seen the dire consequence of COVID-19 on people with health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases that could have been prevented using Culinary Medicine. You must connect the dots to see the benefits. Prevention is better than cure,” she explains.
Dr. Lani Relucio: Spreading the advocacy of Culinary Medicine
Besides cooking, Dr. Lani spreads the word of Culinary Medicine as a copywriter. She hopes her writing and research reach caregivers at home who are struggling, convince institutions to join the “Food is Medicine” movement, and families who are trying to make better food choices. She shares, “The more people that are involved, the more effective we’ll be in addressing the health issues in families and in countries. We work better as a community and we need to tap into that strength to help those become more aware of Culinary Medicine.”
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