My thesis: Body as garden, Body as machine, Body as lived experience

My thesis: Body as garden, Body as machine, Body as lived experience

Posted by Ariela Yomtovian on Dec 7, 2012 2:37 pm

Dear Primary Care Progress Community, 
My name is Ariela Yomtovian. I am currently working on a thesis that discusses how the understanding of the body in medicine (specifically in primary care) impacts the role of food in medicine. Let me briefly explain how I arrived at this topic, why I believe it to be important and how I hope you can help:

I have just finished three years of education at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, in northern Italy- close to Turin. During those years, I became more and more curious about the role of food in healing. My mom has had cancer for the past 13 years, I've been repeatedly shocked by the lack of nutritional education in medical school and it amazes me that McDonalds is present in hospitals! I could not seem to understand why food today is not given the same value as it was once upon a time, and I found it imperative to understand the reason for this.

That was until a couple of months ago.

My mom recommended I read a book by Dr.Victoria Sweet called Gods Hotela (an absolutely lovely read). It was then that I understood that in order to understand the present, one must look to the past- and that is what I did. I began to read and read about the Greeks, the Romans, the medieval men and women and the folks of the enlightenment.  Through this research, I noticed that food was ever so connected to how the body was understood- and I came up with three models which I discuss in my thesis:
1. Body as garden
2. Body as machine
3. Body as lived experience

I am not a doctor. As part of my thesis, I am hoping to get the opinions of those either practicing primary care or studying to practice primary care. I do plan on conducting 4 structured interviews with 4 physicians who are interested in the topic and are excited to discuss their thoughts. However, in this case, the more the merrier... 
All opinions are important. Some questions that might set off a spark to encourage you to write:
1. What is your understanding of the body?
2. What role does food play in primary care?
3. What is the purpose of food in health?
4. How were you taught to perceive the body in medical school?
5. What do you think should be the future of food in healing?

The reason why I find this topic to be relavent is because food/lifestyle is the ultimate form of preventative healthcare.. and yet as many of you know our system has focused more on curing the sick rather than guiding the healthy. This was of practicing medicine is not only unsustainable, but it takes us further away from living a happy and healthy life.

I could write more but will stop here. I hope to receive many answers/thoughts/ponderings/questions etc. 

**please feel free to be as long and superflous as you like. If you do not wish to post your thoughts online, I would also be happy to hear what you have to say via email: 

Also if you have any comments or questions about the thesis, please ask and share!

Of course, to all those involeved I will send a copy of my thesis. 

Thank you kindly and am looking forward to your words,

Re: My thesis: Body as garden, Body as machine, Body as lived experience

Posted by Sonya Collins on Jan 4, 2013 5:42 pm

Thanks so much for this post, Ariela!  I am going to ask around to see whose opinions might be good ones to solicit in our community. More soon!  Good luck! -Sonya

Re: My thesis: Body as garden, Body as machine, Body as lived experience

Posted by Michelle Hauser on Feb 24, 2013 2:58 pm

Hi Ariela,

If it's not too late, I'd be happy to speak with you.  I'm a primary care resident who is also a chef and very interested in the intersection of food and health.  I am looking at innovative ways to incorporate healthy cooking and other lifestyle change into teaching for patients to empower them to take charge of their health.  If I could be of any help, please email me at and we can plan to connect through that route.  I also have a website where I've been posting on the topic: .

Good luck with your thesis!
Michelle Hauser, MD, MPA
Michelle Hauser, MD, MPA
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