There is no one size fits all menu for cancer patients. Up to 80% of cancer patients will develop malnutrition at some point during or after treatment. While evidence shows that certain foods can help ease the common discomforts from cancer treatment it can be challenging and overwhelming for patients and their caregivers to prepare nutritionally appropriate meals and snacks. With cancer-related malnutrition being associated with increased treatment side effects and increased mortality, there is an opportunity to individualize menus and recipes to each patient’s unique challenges during their cancer journey.
Designed by a chef and an oncology dietitian The James Instructional Kitchen opened in December of 2019, with the goal of providing individualized culinary education and recipes to those affected by cancer. Each innovative class offers education on food and nutrition while helping to give back a sense of control to patients and their families. This type of culinary innovation within a health care system positively impacts the local community with the potential to be a model for other similar programs nationwide.
Each class is free to patients and caregivers while delivering valuable instruction on topics such as cooking techniques, basic knife skills, correct food safety, one pot meals as well as cooking for symptomology. Participants are currently identified by the oncology dietitians at The James with plans in place to start marketing the classes to all James Cancer Hospital patients in 2020.