Monique Bassila Zaarour

Abstract Title: Healthy Cooking With Little Time or Budget

Monique Bassila Zaarour, dietitian and mother of 3, will be running a workshop to introduce the concept of cooking fast and healthy Lebanese meals. In 30 minutes, she will cover all aspects from planning, budgeting, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning.
She will be teaching attendees how to plan a weekly menu that covers the guidelines for healthy eating. From that menu, the grocery list will be created. A virtual visit to the supermarket will take place to teach the attendees how to shop sensibly and with a limited budget. Subsequently, Monique will be cooking several meals within minutes to ease the task of cooking and introducing her quick and healthy tips for all ages and nutritional needs. She will also identify credible resources including newsletters, websites and other resources related to nutrition weight management and healthy cuisine and she will be discussing the book “Sohi W Sarih”.


Monique was born in 1972 in Lebanon. She graduated from McGill University, Montreal in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics. Her major goal is to create awareness on eating for a better health. She is often invited to appear and animate television and radio shows concerning health and nutrition. She organizes community speeches, wellness days at schools and companies.

Monique wrote a list of successful books. Monique’s passion is to provide her clients and the public at large with nutritional counseling, tools and food products that help them enjoy a healthy lifestyle and establish positive a pproach towards food and exercise.

In 2008, Monique launched “Sohi W Sarih”, a chain of 6 diet clinics all over Lebanon, run by qualified dietitans, working under her supervision, as well as ”Sohi W Sarih” branded products.

Jessica Maalouf

Abstract Title: Lifestyle Recommendations for Realistic and Successful Weight Loss

Throughout the years, the “low fat” diet was the most recommended approach to achieve weight loss and reduce the occurrence of many health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. However, alternative approaches (i.e. ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, high protein, detox, VLCD, Mediterranean diet...) were similarly tested over the past decade. An evidence-based overview of the different dietary and non-dietary approaches will be presented in this session to assess their effects on different body metabolic parameters.
This review might help us identify the best selected approach to long-term healthy weight loss and weight maintenance.


Miss Jessica Maalouf received a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Notre Dame University- Louaize (NDU) in 2012, as well as a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition in 2018, at the same institute.

Jessica is currently a registered clinical dietitian at Middle East Institute of Health University Hospital- Bsalim (MEIHUH). She monitors, evaluates, and enhances nutrition status based on the patient’s medical condition. She confers with doctors and health care professionals in order to coordinate various dietary needs. She guides patients on how to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices for faster recovery and disease prevention.

Jessica also counsel clients on nutrition and healthy eating habits in a private clinic at Middle East Institute of Health University Hospital- Bsalim (MEIHUH). She develops meal plans according to patients’ preferences, evaluates its efficacy, and modifies it as needed.

Maya Abou Jaoude


Maya Abou Jaoude has a BSc. in Nutrition and Dietetics (1997) and an MSc. in Food Technology (1999) from the American University of Beirut (AUB). She completed a dietetic internship training in Hotel Dieu de France Hospital. Ms. AbouJaoude worked in different settings related to dietetics.  She is currently a Senior lecturer in human nutrition as well as the dietetic internship program coordinator. Ms. AbouJaoude is also involved in research at FNHS. Her research interests include pediatric nutrition, mental health and behavioral nutrition. She has been practicing clinical dietetics since 1999 and is very passionate about her clinical dietetics as well as her teaching career. Her teaching concentration is mainly in dietetics counseling and communication, therapeutic nutrition guidelines and practice.

Hala Kahi Mouawad, MD


Tobacco use contributes to an extensive list of serious diseases and it is the leading preventable cause of death. Reducing tobacco use can be a powerful weapon to lessen the impact of chronic diseases making the integration of tobacco cessation into all clinical services a priority. Tobacco use interventions, ranging from clinician advice to medication to specialist-delivered intensive programs are not only clinically effective but also cost-effective relative to other commonly used disease prevention interventions.

Nevertheless, primary health care providers do not routinely deliver these interventions and major barriers are the lack of knowledge and skills. Consequently, the purpose of this workshop is to equip primary health care provider with tools that effectively help tobacco users to quit, and prevent the exposure to secondhand smoke. This can be done by adopting a care model which includes the 5 A’s brief tobacco intervention for patients who are ready to quit and the 5R’s motivational intervention for patients not ready to quit.



Hala Kahi, M.D, is a Family Medicine Specialist and a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist. She graduated from Saint Joseph University (USJ), Lebanon and Schools of Medicine of Paris-Sud and Creteil, France, as a Medical Doctor with a dual specialization in Family Medicine and in Tobacco Dependence Treatment. She also obtained a postgraduate diploma in Medical Education from USJ.

Dr. Kahi is a Clinical Associate in the Family Medicine department at AUBMC. She is a lecturer in Nicotine Addiction at USJ’s Faculty of Medicine and is an active advocate in Tobacco Control. She established a Specialized Smoking Cessation Program at USJ’s University Medical Center as well as at Keserwan Medical Center (KMC) and Allopathic Alternative Clinique (AAC). She is a member of the board of Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) as well as a member of ATTUD- Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence. She recently conducted a research project about the integration of tobacco intervention training into medical curriculum.


Jumana Antoun


Stress is a common word used among both physicians and patients. This presentation will define stress and explore that evidence behind the role of stress in various illnesses and chronic conditions. It will briefly describe the physiologic changes that occur in the body in response to stress. Many physicians and health care professionals do not have time to counsel patients. Being an important risk factor to many diseases, asking about lifestyle history and stress is of utmost importance. Bathe technique could be one way to actively listen to patients and engage patients about the importance of stress to their health. The talk will conclude with the evidence behind few techniques that can be used to reduce stress: diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness, yoga and mobile applications.


Dr. Jumana Antounis an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and is passionate about technology and communication in healthcare. Dr. Name is an Accredited Balint leader, a society committed enabling health and social care professionals to gain a better understanding of the emotional content of their relationship with patients or clients, and delivers Balint seminars to family medicine residents to help decrease their burnout and stress and increase their empathy. Dr. Antounis’s recent work is in behavioral coaching in the field of obesity treatment.


Marwan El Ghoch, MD

Abstract Title: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity (CBT-OB) In Clinical Practice: Long-Term Lifestyle Modification Program and Its Implementation in Arab Countries

Marwan El Ghoch1*, Dima Kreidieh1, Leila Itani1 , Dana El Masri1, Hana Tannir1, Leila Chehade1
1Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Beirut Arab University, P.O. Box 11-5020 Riad El Solh, Beirut, Lebanon

Obesity is a growing health problem worldwide, associated with several physical and psychosocial comorbidities, impairment of health-related Quality of Life, and increase in risk of mortality. This scenario is present also in Arabic-speaking countries. Strong evidence confirms lifestyle-modification programs as the cornerstone treatment for excess weight and obesity. However recently a systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the long-term effectiveness of the available lifestyle-modification programs for weight management delivered in Arabic-speaking countries and surprisingly reveled that these programs were not more effective than as-usual treatments. The lack in effectiveness seems to be attributed to methodological weaknesses in the program adaptation, lack of supervision, and the presence of social and cultural barriers to lifestyle modification. In the last 20 years several lifestyle modification programs for the management of obesity has been developed, tested and implemented with very promising results in the short- and long-terms. For instance several groups worldwide proposed the cognitive behavioral therapy for obesity (CBT-OB) as a new personalized treatment that can be delivered at different levels of care. The delivery of the CBT-OB in Arabic-speaking countries is challenging after careful adaptation and expert clinical supervision during implementation.


Professor in Clinical Nutrition, and Chairperson of the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics. He earned his doctorate in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Bologna, Italy, and postgraduate studies in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. He is considered an expert in CBT-OB and CBT-E for obesity and eating disorders treatments respectively. Moreover he developed an international leadership in the study of body composition in obesity and eating disorders. Author of more than 75 published in high ranked peer-review journals  (Google citation=1180; h-index=19). Currently hold the positions of a Co-Editor-In-Chief, Frontier Section Editor and Editorial Board Member in 4 International Peer-Review Journals in the field of Medicine and Clinical Nutrition.


Dr. Toni Sawma


The workplace can provide an environment of social support with opportunities for direct communication with employees to support and encourage healthy lifestyle choices.  However, the workplaces and structures of many jobs have inherent health-diminishing aspects. Factors such as psychosocial job strain, shift work, and excessive physical work load are related to worker behaviors such as smoking and lack of leisure-time exercise. Thus the workplace environment itself should be designed to support these choices and to mitigate the stressors that counteract healthy behaviors.

Workplace wellness is a professional field of occupational health and safety. Workplace wellness programs have proven to be beneficial in improving employee health worldwide and represent a core strategy in combating the global rise in Chronic Diseases.

Worksite health and wellness promotion can be comprised of specific programs and services, employer policies and procedures, financial benefits and incentives, and changes in workplace culture or environment. Specific programs focusing on smoking cessation, weight reduction, or health risk appraisal have shown a moderate level of success and economic benefit, but the greatest impact has been for comprehensive wellness programs that include multiple initiatives, involve environmental and cultural changes in the workplace, and are tailored to meet the unique circumstances of organizations, employee health concerns, and work settings.

Despite the challenges that companies may face in implementing them, companies can also reap a multitude of benefits, including improved employee productivity and retention, reduced employee absenteeism, and increased job satisfaction among employees.



Dr. Toni Sawma is currently Head of the Psychology Unit at Notre Dame Des Secours University Hospital – Lebanon. He is also a lecturer at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) – Lebanon and the Lebanese American University (LAU).

Dr. Sawma is involved in Health Psychology and in inter-professional collaboration in healthcare services. He is conducting many studies on the influence of the psychological support on the improvement of the quality of life of cancer patients and healthcare professionals. Dr. Sawma has also been involved in corporate trainings on Stress Management and Communication Skills since 2013. He has practiced in private clinics since 2013. He has conducted multiple projects on the psychosocial support for Syrian refugees at Adyan Foundation since 2013 and in trainings of trainers for secondary teachers on non-formal education since 2007. He contributed to the development of two training manuals and is the author and editor of several articles. Dr. Sawma received his Bachelor Degree in Clinical Psychology and Counseling from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik – Lebanon in 2005. He then completed his Master Degree (2010) and PhD in Psychology (2014) at the same university.

Dr. Walid Khairallah

Abstract Title: Food as Medicine

From the Hippocratic precept Let Food be Thy Medicine emanated several schools of thought in nutrition claiming their diet to be the cure all answer to chronic diseases.
While several of these diets are trendy and at the same time contradict one another, we review the real evidence for what works and what doesn’t, from the Low FODMAPs diet to the Paleo Autoimmune Diet to the Perfect Health Diet and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to plant-based diets. What’s the healthiest diet to follow? It is better to be vegan or follow the carnivorous diet?
We shed light on some specific food items that play a role in cancer prevention and treatment as well as in the treatment of autoimmune disease.
We also look into when and how to de-prescribe some common medications while providing suitable advice on lifestyle changes and functional food replacements.


Dr. Walid Khairallah is a Consultant in Endocrinology at the Bellevue Medical Center. An expert in evidence-based functional medicine, he is reputed for giving nutritional therapy and lifestyle modifications their important values in the management of patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis, as well as special conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, and auto-immune diseases. After graduating in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology at the American University of Beirut, he worked at the eminent Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate in Manama, and there he realized the major importance of the interaction of genetics with diet and exercise on the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the Gulf. He then went to the US where he started training in biomedical nutrition for special conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorders, and autoimmune diseases. Dr. Khairallah is a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York where he has trained to become a Health Coach. He has numerous publications in PubMed, the official medical publication agency.

He is currently the manager of Green Clinics - Beirut, a center that joins the efforts of medical doctors, nutritional therapists and psychotherapists to help patients implement behavioral changes in their daily lives in order to reach their goals of health and well-being.


Michel P. Nawfal MD, MA

Abstract Title: Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a client centered directive approach used in counseling and psychotherapy to induce motivation for positive behavioral change in individuals who are undecided, hesitant and uncertain. Non- compliance to treatment is a challenge to any attempt of behavioral change often due to a conflict within the client perception of change (Cooper, 2012).  MI is an evidence-based approach originally developed in the context of treating substance use disorders, but it is now also used in relation to other behaviors as well such as healthy lifestyle modifications. It is a tool that helps clients explore and resolve ambivalence (Rosengren, 2009). It is a short term process that entails five general principles. A growing body of research shows the efficacy of MI for improving health behaviors and decreasing depression and anxiety among older adults (Cooper, 2017).  The MI technique has been researched extensively in diverse settings, including primary care, mental health, addictions, education, and corrections. The MI principles, skills and techniques will be presented and demonstrated in videos.


Dr. Michel Nawfal is a Mental Health Professional. He is a Medical Doctor and a Clinical Psychologist with a focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He received his undergraduate education in premedical studies (BS: Bachelors of Science) at the American University of Beirut in 1998 after which he earned his medical degree (MD degree) from St. George’s University School of Medicine with clinical rotations at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York, a Cornell University affiliate in 2003.

Dr. Nawfal had an interest in psychological disorders and their complexity. Deciding to practice in the Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, he has pursued graduate education again at the American university of Beirut to earn a master degree in psychology with an internship in psychotherapy at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Trained and supervised in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through the extra-mural program by the Beck Institute, Dr. Nawfal is a CBT therapist.

Dr. Nawfal is currently a Professional Colleague and Fellow Member of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Since 2005, Dr. Nawfal has been a Full member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and an Active member of the French Association of CBT (AFTCC). He served on the board of the Lebanese Psychological Association (LPA) for 2 consecutive mandates from 2011 to 2014 and then from 2014 to 2017. He is currently on the board of the Lebanese Medical Association of Sexual Health (LebMASH), as well as on the Board of directors of the Middle-East Eating Disorders Association (MEEDA) as a Social Affairs Director since January 2017. He is also the Vice President of the Middle East Psychological Association (MEPA).

Myrna A. A. Doumit, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN


Social support is a mutual process characterized by a network of interpersonal relationships, and improves the individuals’ ability to cope and provides them with psychological and instrumental resources. Nurses have the knowledge and expertise to assess the interpersonal and social environments of clients, implement health promotion strategies, and facilitate clients in initiating self –care practices. Nurses maybe a source of support for caregivers of family members by facilitating tangible assistance to families, through mobilization of the clients existing social support network, or by linking the client to relevant community resources. Nurses can provide informational support through giving the client knowledge about self- care practices or educating members of the client’s network. Although often viewed as implying a positive influence, social support may contribute negatively to well-being. The social support activity alone may not be as important as the recipient perceptions of the support activity. Social support theory is important to nurses because it can explain and suggest nursing interventions to improve health outcomes.  At the end of the presentation, the participants will be able to identify the importance of impact of social support on health, and recognize the pivotal role of nurses in endorsing social support for clients.



Myrna A. A. Doumit, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN is a tenured Associate Professor and Assistant Dean at the Lebanese American University (LAU), School of Nursing since 2011.  Dr Doumit served as a nursing faculty at AUBSON from 1990-2010.

Dr. Doumit was the first hired full time faculty after the appointment of the founding Dean. Therefore, she played an instrumental role in founding the School of Nursing at LAU.
Dr. Doumit’s scholarship reflects her expertise in oncology nursing, palliative care and nursing workforce. Her publications shed the light for the first time on many gray areas in the field of oncology in Lebanon that were not explored or discussed. She is a co-founder of an NGO “Awareness” for breast cancer. Dr Doumit is the director of the community project “Courage against breast cancer”.

Dr. Myrna Doumit is the President of the Order of Nurses in Lebanon (2018-2021) and a Fellow at the American Academy of Nursing. She is also a member on the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health National committees for breast cancer awareness and palliative care and pain. Dr. Doumit is a representative of the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health on the Arab Nursing Council for Health. Elected as vice president for the Arab Board scientific committee for nurses and midwifery. She also served as the Coordinator of the STTI Middle East region (2015-2017).  She is a reviewer for many international nursing journals. Dr. Doumit is a member of the Groupe de Reflexion sur L’Ethique en Mediterranee (GREM).

In 2018, Dr. Doumit received the past President Award from ISNCC for her work in the field of Oncology.




This presentation discusses the relatively new interdisciplinary field of positive psychology. It starts off by defining positive psychology and introducing the history behind it. It sheds a light on Martin Seligman’s life and work, focusing on the events that led to the foundation of positive psychology as a field. The four theories revolving around this discipline are also explained. After that, it tackles positive psychology and healthcare, exhibiting numerous research findings that demonstrate an association between the two, the challenges involved in adopting positive psychology in healthcare, and suggestions to overcome these challenges. Next, it elaborates on strategies involved in lifestyle medicine and positive psychology which can improve patients’ health, including therapeutic strategies such as hypnotherapy, CBT, and REBT, with a focus on the effect of combination therapy. Finally, a real case study is presented to illustrate the life-changing effects of such therapies. This presentation aims to increase awareness and educate healthcare providers and the public about the importance of incorporating positive psychology and lifestyle medicine in healthcare.



Myrna Saadeh graduated from AUB with a BS in Nursing, and a Master’s of Science in Psychiatry Mental Health. She completed her clinical residency in the Psychiatry Department, Family Medicine Department at AUBMC. Her PhD is in Mind-Body Medicine, Integrative Medicine with a focus on Mental Health, College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences, Saybrook University, USA.
Her certifications and trainings in Integrative Medicine include CBTH (cognitive behavioral therapy in combination with hypnotherapy) for treatment of cancer and chemotherapy, radiation therapy symptoms at Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, NYC. She is certified as an Integrative Wellness Coach, Saybrook University, USA.
She is a part-time instructor of psychiatry mental health nursing, at the School of Nursing, AUB.
She is an advanced mind-body medicine practitioner in the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in the US, integrating mind-body medicine into clinical practice, medical education and trauma healing.
She is a clinical hypnotherapist and instructor of hypnotherapy and meditation. She has a hypnotherapy clinic, health and wellness center, AUBMC.
She is the founder of Wellbeing Center, where its multidisciplinary team considers the whole person: body, mind, spirit and emotions.