Culinary Medicine

What is Culinary Medicine?

The growing field of culinary medicine explores the links between food and health, applying the foundations of nutritional science side-by-side with traditional medical interventions in clinical care.

Of course, medical recommendations of any kind are only effective when they are followed; sticking to a medically-recommended dietary plan involves far more than filling a pharmaceutical prescription. Selecting, preparing and enjoying food is central to the quality of life of individuals and families, encompassing not only personal taste preferences, but skills and interests, social habits, cultural rituals, household budgets and time constraints.  

Culinary medicine fills an important gap in the current care model, moving beyond simply recommending dietary changes to helping people successfully—and even enjoyably —incorporate them into daily life.

Learn more about our culinary medicine offerings by visiting our Culinary Medicine Classes page.

The Connection Between Food and Health

Science has confirmed what we all know instinctively: there are connections between what we eat and how we feel.

Those connections go far beyond experiencing sluggishness from a rich meal, a headache from too much sugar or a reaction due to a food allergy. Nutrition is what’s known as a modifiable risk factor, meaning that the food choices we make can lessen the severity of a variety of disease symptoms and lower our risk of developing some diseases in the first place.

About the University of Michigan Food for Life Kitchen 

Leading healthcare institutions like Michigan Medicine are breaking new ground in this emerging specialty. A multidisciplinary partnership is working to advance our knowledge of the medical consequences of what, when and how much we eat, and offering practical advice and experiences to help patients develop smart, sensible, sustainable food strategies.  

Just as the kitchen is the center of the home, we have created a dedicated, hands-on learning space to serve as a hub for a number of programs where food and health intersect. This space, located in the East Ann Arbor Health and Geriatrics Center, is called the Food for Life Kitchen.

Leadership and Partners

Leadership is provided by:

  • William D. Chey, MD, Timothy T. Nostrant Collegiate Professor of GI & Nutrition Sciences; Director – Digestive Disorders Nutrition & Lifestyle Program
  • Erica Owen, Manager MHealthy Nutrition and Weight Management

Founding partners in the initiative include:

  • Michigan Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
  • Michigan Medicine’s Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes (MEND)
  • Frankel Cardiovascular Center
  • MHealthy, U-M’s health and well-being service for faculty and staff
  • University of Michigan S chool of Public HealthNutritional Sciences Department

Each of these stakeholders is currently offering or will soon offer tailored programming. Learn more about our culinary medicine offerings by visiting our Culinary Medicine Classes page.

Food for Life Kitchen Features & Location

Kitchen at Michigan Medicine's East Ann Arbor Health & Geriatrics Center

Food for Life Kitchen at East Ann Arbor Health & Geriatrics Center

Renovations completed in 2018 have equipped our multi-function space for cooking demonstrations, lectures and hands-on learning. The space includes: 

  • A 156 square-foot kitchen that is well-equipped for both instruction and hands-on food preparation
  • A 258 square-foot conference room/classroom 
  • Room for up to 25 class participants
  • Two controllable cameras, combined with high definition screens, that can capture and project images of both the full room and close-up food preparation
  • Digital technology that allows sessions to be recorded for future viewing and posting

The Food for Life Kitchen is conveniently located at Michigan Medicine’s East Ann Arbor Health Center, providing both easy access and free parking. 


The ultimate goal of the U-M Food for Life Kitchen is to help patients incorporate evidence-based tools and strategies into their daily lives.  Research is planned to evaluate the courses offered in the Kitchen and generate evidence as to which teaching approaches and course content perform best in helping patients learn new skills and adopt new, healthier habits around food.