Healthy cooking for cancer patients
Cooking for someone going through treatment for cancer can be demanding and sometimes emotionally draining. Some years ago, a friend having long-term chemotherapy found that he virtually lost his sense of taste. He was thin anyway and the rigours of his illness and the treatment diminished his weight dramatically, which added to his wife’s anxiety. ‘Dreaming up dishes to tempt his appetite was hard, especially when I knew he needed to keep up his strength,’ she remembers.
Another friend had such a sore mouth from the drug she was trialling that she could hardly swallow. I vividly remember watching her trying to almost force down food. Other common problems include digestive issues, such as nausea and vomiting, and diarrhoea.
Until now, there has been little authoritative and practical information about this issue. So it is a great relief to welcome The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook, which launches this month.
As Dr. Clare Shaw PhD RD , consultant dietitian at The Royal Marsden, says in her introduction, ‘A healthy diet is vital when you are going through treatment and can help prevent recurrence afterwards.’ She explains that, in general, people need to keep up their weight (within normal parameters) during treatment but may need to avoid weight gain afterwards. Recent research shows that, for patients with breast cancer and probably many others, losing excess weight can be as effective as drug therapy.
The book is divided into three sections, with the first offering copious information and advice on these topics. Two sets of recipes follow: one to cook through treatment, designed to provide intensive nutrition even in small portions, and the second for after treatment, aimed at general healthy eating.
Many recipes have been donated by celebrity chefs, including Angela Hartnett, Ruth Rogers, Raymond Blanc and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Importantly, the recipes are designed for family and friends to eat and enjoy too.
• The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook, published by Kyle Books, price £19.99 (with 50 per cent of the royalties donated to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity)
Everyone who still has their childhood teddy will know how important they are, whatever age the owner. (My husband has just bought his nonagenarian mother an adorable small bear to replace one that disappeared - perhaps to Peru -some years ago.) But beloved bears can take a battering, with stuffing coming out of paws and even ears or limbs being lost altogether. Poorly bears (and dolls and other cuddly toys) can have TLC at the Teddy Bear Hospital, which operates at the back of Alice's Bear Shop in Lyme Regis, Dorset; 01297 444589, www.alicesbearshopuk.com.
Q. My granddaughter, 11, has not started her periods but is distressed by spots on her chin. Is there something safe for one so young to use?
A. Pharmacist Shabir Daya says that spots are very likely due to fluctuating hormones. He advises taking Eclectic Kids Nettles Eyebright Formula, (£11.50 from www.victoriahealth.com). ‘Although aimed at hay fever and other allergies, nettle extracts are excellent at detoxifying hormonal waste and other toxins in the bloodstream that tend to inflame the skin, leading to acne and spots. I recommend taking this safe tincture once daily to prevent recurrence (as opposed to the three times daily for allergies).’ He also suggests using a targeted face wash such as Amie Skincare Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash, which is pH-balanced and soap-free (£4.95 from www.victoriahealth.com).
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR...
A colleague who went on a walking holiday recommends Women’s Azura Mid GoreTex ankle boots by Merrell (£125 with free delivery/020-3376 2738, www.merrell.com), designed to tackle water crossings and challenging terrain. ‘They gave ankle support but were light to walk in all day,’ says Abbie. ‘I didn’t get any blisters and within 48 hours the boots had moulded to my feet and I could feel the arch supporting me. They kept my feet warm and dry during downpours, and the grip on the sole was fantastic, so I stayed upright while others were slipping on wet surfaces.’