Chemo kids in the kitchen

IT was out of the sick room and into the kitchen for young cancer patients at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) when they were treated to a live cooking demonstration from leading oncology dietician Fiona Rowell.

The demonstration formed part of a new branch of the Leukaemia Foundation’s ‘Cooking for Chemo for Kids’ education program, which is delivered free of charge to help reduce the burden on Tasmanian families who are facing blood cancer.

During the demonstration, which included the preparation of a taco lunch, Ms Rowell expertly led the children and their parents through family favourite recipes to help keep them eating well during and after treatment.

Ms Rowell said the program focused on getting kids into the kitchen and cooking at home, letting them create delicious and nutritious meals while maintaining a healthy and balanced diet during their treatment.

She said nutrition care in chemotherapy had both short and long term effects.

“Eating well now helps the children tolerate the two to three-years of prescribed chemo,” she said.

“But, it is also important to teach good eating habits for life as children who undertake chemotherapy to treat blood cancer have a greater risk of excess weight gain and developing a metabolic disease such as type 2 diabetes in early adulthood.

“Events like the RHH demonstration are a far more engaging and memorable lesson of healthy meal management than any discussion in a clinic.

“Our goal is to support family mealtimes throughout a cancer journey and the RHH’s taco lunch was an example of a meal that can be easily changed to suit all taste buds, especially those affected by chemotherapy.”

Ms Rowell said family meal and snack times offered structure and security to daily eating, allowing for optimal self-regulation and opportunity to try new foods when ready.

“This is important for weight management and the development of healthy eating habits,” she said.

Cooking for Chemo for Kids is hoped to be the first of many tailored events for specific groups in the blood cancer ecosystem.

Caption: Spiderman shows young cancer patients the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber at the recent Cooking for Chemo for Kids demonstration at the Royal Hobart Hospital.