Kristie Moore RDN Shares Her Research Findings
Our research project led by Kristie Moore RDN of California State University, Long Beach, was conducted implementing a hands-on culinary and nutrition intervention at Breathe Life Healing Centers in Los Angeles, California. This 12-week study consisted of 4 separate groups, each lasting 3 weeks, with a total of 15 participants. The information offered during this intervention was intended to provide individuals in early recovery with the skills and confidence they need to make healthy food choices, as they begin to make the transition to more independent stages of treatment. The intervention included a grocery store tour and weekly nutrition education classes followed by a hands-on culinary component.
Data revealed a significant increase in the participants’ enjoyment of cooking after completion of the cooking classes. When asked during the program evaluation what part of the program they liked best, Grocery Store Tour, Nutrition Education, or Hands-on Cooking, 13 of the 15 participants chose “Hands–on Cooking.” Confidence level in relation to food preparation skills as well as a higher level of comfort in purchasing whole grain products also significantly increased. This finding is in accordance with previous research that has found that interventions containing both a nutrition education component and a “hands–on” cooking element increased the participants’ cooking confidence and skill level (Wrieden et al., 2006). Research by Levy & Auld (2004) shows similar results, where participation in “hands-on” cooking classes led to improved attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge towards cooking and nutrition, compared to interventions in which participants observed a cooking demonstration or listened to a lecture.
Developing the skills and confidence to prepare healthful meals during addiction treatment is important for sustainable recovery. Proper nutrition can help the body heal from years of damage, as well as decrease depression, anxiety, obesity, and other chronic diseases. Although the data analysis for this study found limited statistical significance in other areas, there was a positive trend found in the mean averages between the pre- and post-intervention data. Self-efficacy and positive attitudes about cooking, purchasing, and preparing healthy foods increased after the nutrition and “hands-on” culinary intervention. Future studies utilizing a larger, more diverse sample are definitely needed to increase awareness of the important role that nutrition plays in recovery from substance abuse (Moore, 2015).
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Levy, J., and Auld, G. (2004). Cooking Classes Outperform Cooking Demonstrations for College Sophomores. J Nutr Educ Behav., 36, 1997–203.
Moore, K. (2015). Hands–on Cooking and Culinary Intervention within a Substance Abuse Treatment Center (Thesis Project).
Wrieden, W. L., Anderson, A. S., Longbottom, P. J., Valentine, K., Stead, M., Caraher, M., Lang, T., Gray, B., Dowler, E. (2007). The impact of a community-based food skills intervention on cooking confidence, food preparation methods and dietary choices – an exploratory trial. Public Health Nutrition, 10(2), 203–11. doi:10.1017/S1368980007246658