LE WELL: Culinary Medicine with Victoria Yunez Behm

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Victoria Yunez Behm MS, MTS, CNS, LDN is driven to be an agent for health and healing. 

Her interests center on ways systems, people, and meaning intersect to drive whole-person and community health through the foods we eat and our daily choices. Yunez Behm has earned certification as a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist, with master’s degrees in Nutrition and Integrative Health and Theological Studies. Currently serving as Adjunct Faculty at the Maryland University of Integrative Health and supporting programs through Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Yunez Behm is passionate about moving nutrition to the core of health care, while exploring the effects of inequitable systems on health disparities, access to food, and access to nutrition services for vulnerable populations. 

The Wednesday Wellness Workshop sponsored by LE WELL on 2/21/2024 saw Yunez Behm pursuing another passion: Educating healthcare providers about nutrition and culinary medicine to enhance not only their own knowledge and wellbeing but also to help amplify the impact of good nutrition to the thousands of patients our learners will ultimately serve. The two-hour workshop began with an overview of Yunez Behm’s goal to utilize evidence-based nutritional strategies to improve health, with a goal of empowering both clinicians and their patients to take an active role in their nutritional health. She described ways in which she has been able to work with patients to understand their nutrition histories and the ways in which food intersects with identity and culture, and to support collaboration between clinicians and patients. 

Yunez Behm pointed out that “Food should be joyful!” and also that food may be of primary concern to healthcare providers and/or to their patients. “If food is foundational to health, why isn’t it foundational to health care?” Recognizing that “We eat with our eyes first,” she recommended foods that are naturally colorful and full of phytochemicals, which play diverse and distinct roles in promoting health. Workshop participants had the opportunity to make “petits toasts,” with the tip that combining healthy fats and proteins with carbohydrates helps balance blood sugar to avoid spikes and the post-prandial low; and to create delicious “energy bites” filled with nut or sunflower butters, binding a variety of ingredients like dried fruit, vegetable and protein powders, cocoa or coconut. While creating a delicious chickpea salad (with chickpeas, colorful bell peppers, red onion, olives, feta, tomatoes, cilantro, and fresh lemon juice), Yunez Behm gave some tips from her coursework in culinary arts, including pro tips for cutting peppers and the key to cutting a tomato (sharp knife). 

We are grateful for Yunez Behm’s engagement with our HPE students and look forward to welcoming her back for another Wednesday Wellness Workshop on the sixth floor of the Trent Semans Building for another workshop on Culinary Medicine on March 27, 2024 at 5 p.m. 

food picture
Dr. Melanie Bonner and Victoria Yunez Behm prepping for the Wednesday Wellness Workshop on Culinary Medicine 2/21/2024 

 

 

 

 

 

food with people
“Food should be joyful!” says Yunez Behm, 2/21/2024 

 

food with people
The Wednesday Wellness Workshop on Culinary Medicine 2/21/2024 saw participants from multiple HPE programs 
post it notes
Students listed out some of their favorite comfort foods 2/21/2024 

 

energy bites
2/21/2024 Energy Bites 

 

food with people
2/21/2024 Victoria Yunez Behm; Wednesday Wellness Workshops on the 6th floor of the Trent Semans building provide multisensory opportunities for community building, learning, and breath-taking views 

 

chick peas
2/21/2024 This chickpea salad, containing diverse phytochemical-rich veggies and protein-packed chickpeas, can also include feta and olives (which add umami) 

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