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Everyone Wants to be Happy!

Research shows that happiness is not a result of money, work, social status, or material possessions — so what creates happiness and how does that relate to Culinary Medicine? Culinary Medicine, as taught by Michael S. Fenster MD & Professor of Culinary Medicine at The University of Montana, is “The multidisciplinary application of evidence-based decision making in the selection of ingredients and techniques used in preparing foodstuffs with a goal of
achieving and maintaining health and wellness through an optimized food experience.” In other words, Culinary Medicine incorporates data and insights from widely diverse fields of study and synthesizes validated evidence into practical tools and methods to empower people to devlop a powerful, healthy, and personal relationship with the food they choose to eat. A healthy and joyous relationship wth the food we must consume to exist is a foundation for other relationships in our lives; relationships that ultimately determine not only how long, but how well we live. Below are two landmark studies that investigated what is it that leads to a long, healthy, and happy life? The Harvard Happiness Study Overview:
The Harvard Happiness Study is composed of two sub-studies (The Grant & Glueck Studies) that longitudinally followed people for over 80 years. The researchers looked to identify those variables that correlate to lifelong wellness, health, and happiness. Data analyzed:
Multiple variables were examined including items like bloodwork, socioeconomic status, IQ, genetics, EEGs and functional MRI measurements, etc. Take-away:
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.” Relationship to Culinary Medicine:
One of the most important, if not the most important relationship in our lives is our personal relationship with the food we choose to eat. A fundamental construct not only for human society and culture, it serves as a bellwether for personal relationships throughout our existence. Culinary Medicine serves to strengthen this relationship to empower the individual to take control over their health and wellness.

Investigations of National Geographic’s Blue Zone Overview:

An international assessment of areas around the globe that had unusually high concentrations of healthy centenarians. These areas were thoroughly investigated looking for commonalities amongst these physically distant and remote areas.The researchers looked to identify those variables that correlate to lifelong wellness, health and happiness. Data analyzed:
The researchers used established methodologies to try to determine not only why people in these areas have such remarkable longevity, but preserved functional and cognitive capacity, as well. Take-away:
One of the most consistent, powerful findings across all groups was that “centenarians spend a lot of time and effort working on their relationships.” People in blue zones areas are part of a community. In such a setting, health behaviors are contagious. The world’s longest-lived people create an environment that supports healthy behaviors. Relationship to Culinary Medicine:
Once again, data suggests that what drives our food choices is based upon our relationships; what kind of relationship we have with our food and within what social and cultural context. Unlike the strictly nutritional and clinical approaches that have failed epically over the last half-century, Culinary Medicine addresses these aspects of the food experience.