Friday, October 28, 2011

Cancer cookbooks aim to help patients, caregivers bring joy back to eating

Cover of "Betty Crocker's Living with Can...Cover via Amazon19-October-2011

By Maureen Linke, USA TODAY

When a friend is going through cancer treatment, we naturally want to help — and for many people, that means whipping up a casserole or some other comfort food.

But for those experiencing nausea, stomach upset or a metallic aftertaste from chemotherapy, some rich or heavy foods may be anything but comforting, say authors of cookbooks created with cancer patients in mind.
Good nutrition is especially important during cancer treatment because people who are nutritionally depleted don't tolerate treatment well, says Kris Ghosh, a gynecologic oncologist and co-author (with Linda Carson and Elyse Cohen) of Betty Crocker's Living With Cancer Cookbook: Pink Together Edition (Wiley Paperback, $19.99), out last month.
Listening and simplicity are key when cooking for a cancer patient, Ghosh says. "First and foremost, find out what their cravings are," he says. "Tastes can change during treatment. You don't need to cook fancy for them to be happy; they need substance … something they can tolerate or digest."
Cookbooks such as Living With Cancer and theAmerican Cancer Society's What to Eat During Cancer Treatment: 100 Great-Tasting, Family-Friendly Recipes to Help You Cope ($19.95) aim to help patients and caregivers with symptom management. Both categorize recipes by common symptoms: nausea, diarrhea, constipation, mouth soreness and difficulty swallowing, altered sense of taste, unintentional weight loss.

Though it can be difficult for family and friends to discuss a loved one's diagnosis, patients don't want pity, Ghosh says: "These books can be a subtle and supportive way to start the conversation." Some insurers may even cover cookbooks' costs, he adds.
The recipes in these books are not difficult, the authors note: Each recipe in What to Eat takes only about 30 minutes, and Betty Crocker cookbooks are known for easy-to-prepare recipes.
Different stages of cancer treatment can affect taste or appetite in a variety of ways. Chemotherapy is the most significant because chemo drugs kill cells that divide rapidly, such as taste buds, causing patients to have to regrow new ones, Ghosh says. Regrowth doesn't begin until at least a month after all treatments are completed. During regrowth, everything tastes bland or patients have cravings they've never had before, he says.
Though nutritional value is a high priority, overall calorie intake can be the ultimate goal, especially for someone suffering from frequent nausea, says Colleen Doyle, a registered dietitian and editor of the American Cancer Society cookbook, published in 2009. "If nothing but ice cream sounds good, that's OK," she says.
Simple, non-spicy foods can be the most appealing during chemotherapy, says breast cancer survivor Jody Schoger of The Woodlands, Texas.
"I was always hungry for soup, but something that you may have enjoyed before may not appeal to you at all during chemo," says Schoger, who is now in remission and cooks for cancer patients in her community.
Foods can bring back memories of how life can be normal and positive again, and that mental aspect of treatment is just as important, Ghosh says.
"Here you are going through the most challenging part of your life, and your basic ability to eat has been taken away," he says. "People get depressed as they go through treatment, and a side effect of depression is lack of appetite. Bringing that joy back to eating is a really critical part of treatment."
For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to

Taken from Your Life,; source article is below:

Cancer cookbooks aim to help patients, caregivers bring joy back to eating
Enhanced by Zemanta