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Nourishing Kitchen: Jackie Topol's Passion Helps Others Heal

By Expert HERWriter
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Nourishing Kitchen: Jackie Topol's Passion Helping Others Heal Andrey Kuzmin/PhotoSpin

The kitchen is the place where people always seem to gather for nourishment of their bodies and their spirit. How many of us have a fond story that starts out around the kitchen or dining room table and ends in laughter?

But when you are diagnosed with cancer or another chronic illness that takes a toll on your body, eating food can become difficult. The kitchen can lose its magic and become a place to be avoided.

It can be frustrating and difficult to figure out what or how to eat. The foods you love can taste different or you might not have the energy to cook.

Research shows that patients tolerate cancer treatments better when they are well-nourished.

Put another way, when patients lose weight during treatments due to eating poorly, they don’t tolerate the treatments as well. It is vital to eat nourishing foods while you are going through these cancer treatments.

In the middle of treatment it can be truly challenging to discover foods you can tolerate so that you can break the seemly vicious cycle.

So what do you do?

One woman, Jackie Topol, who has a passion for helping others, found an answer that she shares with her patients. She created a program called The Nourishing Kitchen where she conducts cooking demonstrations on the leukemia/lymphoma unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Here Topol teaches patients and their family members how to manage side effects from treatment so that patients can optimize their nutritional intake as best as they can during cancer treatment. She believes that “food is medicine” and uses key ingredients in her recipes that target managing a variety of side effects.

Topol is a clinical dietitian for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on the oncology and cardiology units. She is helping her patients make food and the kitchen nourishing and welcoming once more.

After noticing that her lymphoma and leukemia patients were losing weight in between their chemotherapy treatments she decided to ask the hospital to fund her Nourishing Kitchen program. It took a few tries to get the funding Topol needed but she was determined to create an experiential learning environment.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.