Dietitians from the NNUH cook up a festive feast

Christmas can be a testing time for patients with kidney failure as many have to cope with a restricted diet as well as resigning themselves to many hours hooked up to a dialysis machine.

So Annette Gill, 66, from Surlingham, was delighted when dietitians at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital offered to prepare some festive fare that she and other patients can eat without putting their health at risk.

For the last three years Bridget Reasbeck, renal dietitian at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and her colleagues have held an annual “Festive Food Fun Day”, cooking a variety of cakes, puddings and other tempting goodies for the patients, their relatives and carers.

Annette, who for 12 years was a playgroup supervisor in Surlingham, has been on dialysis now for 14½ years and says she is looking forward to cooking the suggested recipes with her 16-year-old granddaughter, Shannon.

“It’s a big help because Christmas is particularly bad for feeling that you’re the odd one out, with everyone else tucking in to traditional food and drink,” she says. “Like many dialysis patients I am restricted to only 500mls (just under a pint) of fluids per day and I also have to avoid or limit other foods that are high in potassium and phosphate to help protect my heart and bones.

“The Christmas pudding and cakes prepared by the dietitians are made with pineapple and glace cherries, and they are moist and taste surprisingly good. They even have a recipe for marzipan which uses semolina and almond essence instead of ground almonds.”

Bridget says: “The aim of the day is to show that a restricted diet doesn’t have to be boring for renal patients and there are lots of ways to spice up their diet and feel included at Christmas.

“Many people prefer the adapted recipes to the more traditional ones and choose to use them for the whole family, which is a bonus. We are available throughout the day to answer questions and the poster display remains in the renal unit reception area until the New Year.

“The event provides a great opportunity for us to give dietary advice in a fun and relaxed environment.”

Photo opportunity

• Patients, carers and relatives are all invited to attend the Festive Food Fun Day from 10am on 8th December on the Jack Pryor Renal Unit. Further details are available by contacting Bridget on 01603 287011.

Monday 7th of December 2009 11:00:47 AM