27 Sept 2022

Making the Most of Every Bite

High-calorie, high-protein cookbook for patients and their carers

Making the Most of Every Bite

Minister for Health, Simon Harris with the authors at the launch of the book.

The HSE and University College Cork have this week published a new cookbook aimed at providing high-calorie, high-protein recipes for the estimated 145,000 people in Ireland who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

Created by dietitians and chefs, Making the Most of Every Bite contains easy to prepare and nourishing recipes, enriched with extra energy and protein to help slow down or prevent weight loss associated with illness. 

Rapid, unplanned weight-loss can be detrimental to health and is one of the most distressing symptoms patients can experience.

Unfortunately, eating and maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult for people experiencing conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s Disease or advanced dementia. 

It can also be a factor for older people living alone, and for those who are undergoing treatment such as major surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Maintaining a healthy weight is a main nutritional priority when fighting illness. 

Dr Sharon Kennelly, Registered Clinical Specialist Dietitian and Nutrition Project Lead, HSE Primary Care, notes the importance of identifying patients who are at risk of malnutrition and intervening quickly:

“Malnutrition is a serious healthcare issue in Ireland today and healthcare professionals working in the community are well-placed to recognise the risk. This new toolkit is designed to support them in providing first-line management. A food-based approach should always be part of the first steps in managing malnutrition and we are delighted to partner with dietetic colleagues in UCC to make this cookbook available to people who can benefit from it. We have piloted it with a small number of patients and family members who are supporting loved ones, and the feedback has been very positive.”

Dr Aoife Ryan, Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences at UCC and one of the authors of the cookbook said:

“It is important to make sure that the food you eat is as nourishing as possible when your appetite is poor or when you are finding it difficult to maintain your weight when ill. These recipes are easy to make, nutritious and give people new ideas at a time when lack of appetite can bring additional distress. The comfort and normality of eating at times of illness is something that cannot be underestimated.”

Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris, TD, who was at the launch, said:

“I welcome the publication of the new cookbook and I would like to congratulate the HSE and University College Cork on its launch today. I am well aware that malnutrition or under-nutrition, in association with an illness or disease, is a significant problem for a number of Irish people and can have considerable economic costs. This new cookbook will help support better outcomes by helping carers and individuals themselves to choose food that is both nourishing and enjoyable."

Making the Most of Every Bite also contains further information about problems that may affect eating, such as nausea and vomiting, indigestion and reflux, diarrhoea and constipation, and advice on how to deal with these.

Recipes for soups, smoothies and soft foods, which are ideal for people who have difficulties chewing or sore mouth, are also included.

Portion sizes are ideal for people who feel full quickly or are put off by the sight of a full plate of food. All recipes use typical household ingredients and can be made in bulk and frozen for later use. 

The Making the Most of Every Bite cookbook is part of an online toolkit aimed at assisting first-line management of malnutrition in adults. The toolkit is available to view at nutritionsupports and the cookbook is available to view in the ‘Public’ section.

Please remember, it is important to discuss this cookbook with your nurse, doctor or dietitian to check whether it is appropriate for you. Your HSE healthcare professional can order a copy for you, if it is appropriate, free of charge.

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