Why I Keep Fortune Cookies on My Desk

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Many of my patients ask, “Why do you have fortune cookies on your desk?” Then, I offer them one. I considered having other treats, but decided on fortune cookies because of

Comfort. The cookie is a small treat for those who want one.

Diet. You don’t have to eat the cookie to enjoy it; you can still read the fortune. For patients who have an eating disorder, the cookie allows us to naturally transition the conversation to issues they are experiencing.

Cultural competency. I treat patients of many backgrounds. Some have never seen a fortune cookie (remember to warn them there is a fortune inside!). Others know the fortune cookie is not a Chinese invention, as it is popu­larly thought to be.1

Impulsivity. Do patients grab a cookie immediately, wait for one to be offered, or ask for one?

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