As a nutritionist, dietitian and trained chef, I can show you how to make delicious, appetizing meals that ensure you get the most from the foods you eat.
I'm delighted to join Macmillan's Online Community; my work as a nutritionist has been devoted to helping those with cancer, and other serious health conditions, to find the confidence and skills to nourish their bodies through the food they eat.
My great aunt adored cooking and was my food mentor. As children, my sister and I loved staying the night with her, as we would wake up to wafts of homemade bread and Chelsea buns tempting us down for breakfast. She showed me that so much love, affection and care can be communicated through food. At the same time, my dad gave me a love of chemistry. Together, these wonderful people inspired me to combine my passion for cooking with my curiosity about how foods impact our body, and how our health impacts our ability to eat.
I studied dietetics, swiftly followed by corden bleu training to reignite my passion for cooking. When I was studying, I couldn't understand why there seemed to be such a lack of passion and knowledge around ingredients and delicious foods, so I couldn't wait to don my apron and get back into the kitchen. I set up my own practice 25 years ago and soon became known as the food-loving nutritionist (I am a state-registered dietitian but prefer to call myself a nutritionist as it's a far more descriptive and motivating word, and doesn't imply that I give out diet sheets, which would be far from the truth).
I wanted to do something different from the norm for my patients; I wanted to inspire and turn them on to eating, especially those struggling with the side effects of cancer treatments and difficulties around living with the disease. I couldn't bear to suggest what we were taught at university for someone with a swallowing difficulty, which was to take meat, potatoes, and vegetables, bung them in a liquidiser and serve the Sunday roast as a soup. I found this patronising and degrading and I didn't want any of my patients served mush.
Instead, I love to find beautiful-tasting, easy-to-swallow dishes that anyone would love to eat, whether they are poorly or not - like a soufflé, a crème caramel, or a light fish mousse. I might suggest a wonderful soup made with roasted vegetables, which softens them and intensifies the flavours, drizzled with a dollop of crème fraiche, or another soup, simply made from stock, frozen peas and gently fried smoked bacon and garlic, which can be whizzed up in 10 minutes then kept in the fridge for a few days, ready for when you need something nourishing. Fancy something sweet? What about a small hot chocolate, made by melting a square or two of chocolate in warm milk, served as a little aperitif to get the taste buds going.
I spend long weekends cooking at home, where I'm lucky enough to grow most of our vegetables. Maya, my beautiful 14-year-old daughter, knows me either as the crazy woman who is out in her pyjamas in the vegetable garden as soon as daylight breaks, or as she described me in a poem she wrote, aged six, 'My Mum the Salad Hoover'! I try to eat seasonally as much as possible, but I know this isn't always easy and I never want to make it a rule, as life is complicated enough without having hard rules. This is especially true when you or someone close to you is living with cancer, be this in the thick of treatments or coping with the physical challenges that cancer can make us face, such as dealing with an ileostomy or colostomy, problems swallowing, or lack of appetite.
The food you eat can support you during often difficult treatments and keep you as strong as possible. So I want to hear from you, to understand what you're struggling with, and hopefully provide recipes, tips and ideas to help you gain the confidence and skills to help you nourish your body. I'm very much looking forward to becoming part of your Community.
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Sounds great, could you include some recipes that are low or dairy free and recipes that are meat free, especially red meat. Fish is good though.
Welcome to the community! My problem is fat content, having bile malabsorption problems arising from radiotherapy, so I am restricted to 50g fat per day in addition to taking colesevelam tablets. So many foods (pastry, cheese, chocolates, etc.) have high fat content that it is very trying, trying to keep the fat content down to 17g per meal. Recipes would be most welcome, particularly for my long-suffering wife!
Hallo Jane and Welcome,
I am interested in your thoughts on a dairy free diet, as I am recovering from breast cancer.
I understand from Professor Jane Plant's books, that rural Chinese women rarely contract breast cancer. However, on moving to a western lifestyle (including dairy), they develop the same risk of breast cancer, 1 in 8, as we do.
I appreciate that conducting double blind trials is difficult with diet, as the subjects would need to be imprisoned, to ensure no diary was eaten for many years ! However, have any trials been undertaken on subjects who are lactose intolerant, to note whether their incidence of breast cancer is lower ?
Since reading Jane Plant's books, I have changed to a dairy free diet, and found it no problem, as most supermarkets stock alternatives to dairy.
Can't remember what my blog name used to be,
Call me "Dairyfree !"
Thankyou so much for getting in touch. I'm really looking forward to being part of the community and exploring all the topics you've suggested-they're great ideas to talk about and hopefully I'll be able to provide some inspiring recipes and ideas.
Welcome to Macmillan.
I don't have or had cancer but do have high cholesterol due to poor kidney function (55%). I take simvastatin. I get my 5 fruit and veg a day but it is hard to know what to eat sometimes or how often I can have a treat such as a baon butty. Every TV cook programme shows meals, cakes etc that have enough fat in them for one person for a month.
Local NHS staff just say to be careful and have the occassional treat but can't be specific as to what is allowed and when. If I'm taking statins should these not counteract any excess.
I know this is not cancer related but it is similar to the post re 50g fat per day.
"The food you eat can support , as well as helping you to fight cancer, perhaps reducing the chance of future problems."
I can't believe I'm reading this on a site like Macmillan. There is absolutely no supporting evidence for it whatsoever, just the personal belief of the writer.
Hi Robin and thanks for your comment.There is some Macmillan information about Diet and cancer on our cancer information pages.
Yes, I know. That's why I say I can't believe that Macmillan is publishing unsupported nonsense like this on an official site. It is misleading and dangerous and reflects nothing but the opinion of the writer.
Hi Robin,The actual quote is, 'The food you eat can support you during often difficult treatments and keep you as strong as possible, as well as helping you to fight cancer, perhaps reducing the chance of future problems.' This is supported by the information on the page I linked to above.If you would like to know more about how we produce our cancer information then please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org M.
Sorry, but that is not supported at all. There is no evidence to support such statements. It is simply accepted wisdom within the 'nutrition community' but completely unsupported by truly independent research. How des it 'help you fight cancer?' It doesn't. 'Perhaps reduce...etc.' Where's the meaningful evidence? There is none.
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