Friday, March 30, 2012

Teasing the palates of chemo patients

At the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center and Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, AZ, executive chef Heather Metell has instituted a unique program to help chemo patients receive proper nourishment—and enjoy their food.

Like cancer cells, taste buds are fast-growing cells and can be destroyed or changed by chemo.

Food may begin to taste odd, metallic, too salty, too sweet or just tasteless. This can change from day to day.

Metell goes to the patient’s room before deciding on a menu and brings samples of vanilla pudding, peanut butter and lemon yogurt—to see what the person can taste and what it tastes like.

If the patient can still detect sour, she may make them a lemon cream sauce for halibut. If the patient can taste sweetness—maybe a chocolate smoothie.

She calls this flavor profiling. To her knowledge, this is the only hospital trying this—but it sounds good and maybe others could give it a whirl.

I certainly have never been treated this considerately in a hospital—it’s a great idea.

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