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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > May 2018 > FOOD LIFELINES Putting the flavour back when you’re unwell

FOOD LIFELINES Putting the flavour back when you’re unwell

A healthy diet can be a challenge when you lose interest in food through a medical condition. Jo Waters meets two professionals dedicated to making wholesome meals extra appealing

Cooking for health



Ryan with his mum, Krista

‘Caring for my MUM inspired me to give SOMETHING back’

Putting the taste and flavour back into cancer patients’ diets has become a passion for food stylist and writer Ryan Riley. He has recently launched the Life Kitchen Road Show for people affected by cancer.

RYAN WAS 18 and studying at business college in Newcastle when his mum, Krista, was first diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. ‘We were shocked that she had developed lung cancer, as she hadn’t smoked for 25 years and had always been adamant that my sister Rachel and I shouldn’t smoke when we were growing up’, recalls Ryan, 24.

‘I remember Mum losing her sense of taste when she started chemotherapy. She’d previously loved and enjoyed her food. It was heartbreaking to see her fade away. She lost weight, was so pale and frail, and said her food tasted of nothing. All she asked for were ice pops – I think it was the cold and the sweetness she craved. Her taste buds had been so damaged by the chemotherapy she just couldn’t enjoy food any more.

‘After her diagnosis I spent a lot of time with Mum. Dad had to go to work and I was just around more and became her carer. She confided in me a lot. Cancer robs you of so many pleasures in life and food was a really important one for her. The memories of my mum struggling to enjoy food have stayed with me ever since. She said everything tasted of cardboard.’

Just before Krista died she was in remission, and told Ryan to book a last-minute trip to Malta with his friends. ‘On the Sunday, though, Dad was on the phone to me telling me Mum was in intensive care, and she died before I could get home to see her, which made losing her so much worse. She was my favourite person in the world and I couldn’t believe she was gone.

Inspiration for Life Kitchen

‘Now that I’m working in the food industry, I want to help people like my mum who are struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, by giving them back some enjoyment of food in their everyday lives’, says Ryan. ‘My main emphasis is on teaching people how to get maximum flavour and taste from foods. I think a lot of people have lost the basic cooking skills that bring out the flavour of foods. It can be an easy thing such as caramelising a steak, for instance.

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About Healthy Food Guide

Make bloating a thing of the past with our guide to the real (lesser known) causes - and how to beat them for a flatter tum. We also show you how to look good naked (or on the beach!) with the best methods for all-over toning. Find out how to eat to cut your risk of type 2 diabetes, with the five diets recommended by Diabetes UK and, if you or someone you know is a smoker, Dr Dawn Harper offers practical advice (and some surprising health stats) to help you quit. With over 30 recipes to help you cook light, it's all you need for a healthy start to summer!