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Diet and cooking

By Gillian

Right from the initial diagnosis, we’ve been told by all the healthcare professionals (consultants, specialist nurses, dietician) that it’s vitally important for Chris to avoid losing more weight than he can possibly help. Essentially, we need to take normal dieting rules, and invert them – so he needs snacks between meals, desserts, no low-fat anything etc.  We were told to make sure that every mouthful counts, by fortifying each meal with cream, cheese etc. In my last supermarket shop I bought double cream, single cream, soured cream, creme fraiche, yoghurt and cream cheese, with the aim of slipping a couple of tablespoons of at least one of them into each and every meal. However, it’s never as easy as that…..

The main problem we’ve been having recently is his sickness, which killed his appetite. And he also has physical trouble eating certain foods due to the location of the tumour – basically anything which needs a knife to eat it with is too difficult. But on top of that is the fact that for the past nearly 20 years, Chris has done almost all the cooking in our house. He’s very good at it – I wouldn’t say the cooking was the reason I married him, but it was certainly a consideration! I, on the other hand, am an inexperienced, uninterested and reluctant cook. But since Chris had the stent fitted he has been too ill to do his usual duties in the kitchen – it was down to me to keep him fed. And I only had two recipes in my limited repertoire that he could eat – cottage pie and baked fish. So no wonder that I “snapped inside” (his words!) when he refused to eat what I’d prepared.

But then last weekend we had a major breakthrough. Some friends of ours gave Chris a book for his birthday – “Healthy eating during chemotherapy” by van Mil and Archer-Mackenzie. It’s been an absolute revelation. It’s full of quick, nutritious and (importantly for me) easy-to-cook recipes that have been specially designed for the smaller, capricious appetite of a chemotherapy patient. I got Chris to go through it last weekend with a pad of Post-It notes, marking those recipes he thought he might like. I’ve then been cooking from it all week, making a main course and dessert each night, and Chris has been wolfing them down.  So a huge thanks to Richard and Fabienne for having the inspiration to go looking for such a cookbook – we hadn’t even considered that such a thing might exist. Now that he’s eating better, and his vomiting is more under control, he’s got so much more energy and oomph which is a real pleasure to see. And even better, he’s feeling well enough tonight to cook dinner!

{ 7 } Comments

  1. Fabienne P | 22 January 2010 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad we have been to help you in a practical way. Richard has just attempted to quote from The Siege of Krishnapur about books being hermetically sealed provisions, but that’s best left unrecorded.
    Best wishes

  2. icyjumbo | 22 January 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I must add my thanks to Gillian’s. That book has been a life saver, almost literally. I think all but one of the recipes we have tried so far has been an out and out success, with the extra one being OK, but not up to the standard of the others.

    I’m certainly intrigued about Richard’s comment. I wonder if he will expand on it…

  3. David Allsopp | 22 January 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant! Would never have occurred to me either that you could get a book like that. Books for toddlers, yes – books for stomachs that act like sulky toddlers, no.

    Does help?



  4. icyjumbo | 23 January 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    That link was perfect. I now understand everything. I’m totally enlightened 🙂

  5. Catharine | 23 January 2010 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Wow! Between the last two entries, it sounds like you’re getting the food thing under control. What a brilliant idea for a cookbook!

  6. icyjumbo | 23 January 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I think so too. And all credit to Richard and Fabienne for even thinking to look for such a thing. I don’t know that I would ever have thought to do so.

    What’s even better is that now my appetite is returning, I can eat more normal food too, which we intersperse with meals from the chemo cookbook. I’m eating about as well as I ever have done, which is amazing, and wonderful.

  7. Fabienne P | 23 January 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    We almost did not get the cookbook because we thought that either you had already got one or had been given one…
    Also we feared there might not be enough space for another cookbook.

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  1. A mammoth undertaking : Feeling Queasy | 9 February 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    […] with him as this is really impacting our quality of life. I think we’ll be cooking from the chemotherapy cookbook again for the rest of the week, as his appetite really needs tempting again. Posted by Gillian on […]