Dialysis Unit at BMH offering patients a taste of healthy living
The Blue Mountain Hospital dialysis unit is going the extra mile to help patients find healthy foods they can actually eat, by preparing recipes each month and sharing them with patients.
Terri Valdez began preparing these recipes in January in cooperation with the celebration of the Dialysis Unit's first transplant patient. The first offerings were a fruit salad and fake ice cream cones made with cream cheese, fat-free whipped topping and berries.
"I just really don't know why it came to me," Valdez said. "But Cheyna (UNHS Dietician Cheyna Palmer) talks about diet all the time and the changes patients need to make. We give them all the information of what they need to change, and how to change it, but most people have difficulty changing. They don't want to make a whole recipe of something just to taste it. So I decided I would take recipes that fit into their dialysis diet and just make a recipe," Valdez
said. "I come in two days a week, once a month, and give everybody a taste, so to speak. I give them the recipe so they have the option of making it again if it's something they like."
Valdez said she gets recipes from a number of renal web sites, including the National Kidney Foundation's web site. According to Valdez, everybody says they like the food, but she says the most exciting development came just recently, after one of her patients tried a recipe at home.
"My first success, as far as I'm concerned, was this morning. One of our patients said she made a recipe, again, at home, and the family loved it. Then she made the recipe again the next day and took it to a potluck. Everybody loved it. Mission accomplished!" She said.
"I like to taste new, different things, but I don't like to make the whole recipe just to see if I like it," she continued. "This is a way for them to taste it. I make two recipes each month. So if I can keep going I'll have 12 and maybe 24 recipes in a year that will fit into their diet."
In February, with the warm weather, Terri made a tomato-free Barbeque Sauce to eat with chicken strips. She also made rice and vegetables cooked in lemonade. In March she made a pasta salad with a peach cobbler-type dessert called Fruity Dump Cake. This was made by baking canned peaches in a pan with a cake mix sprinkled on top with some butter. The pasta salad was made with carrots, red peppers, onions, lemon juice and mayonnaise.
Valdez said once a patient goes on dialysis, everything that was once healthy food is not healthy any more. Grains can be a problem, and many fresh fruits and vegetables have large amounts of potassium, which is also a problem. She said dialysis patients go from eating a diet of healthy fresh foods, to a canned diet. And canned meats contain sodium, which is also not healthy
for dialysis patients. Phosphorus is another big challenge with processed foods.
"We give them all this information about what they can and can't have, and what they need to cut out, and eat more of this. But why should they make a recipe with food that will go to waste because no one will eat it? Letting them try these foods and giving them these recipes is one more tool we can use to help them," she said.
Valdez tries every recipe herself just to make sure it is something she would eat. She said if it's not good, she won't introduce it to her patients. She talked about one liquid protein supplement that she described as, 'the nastiest thing I've ever had.' She drank an entire dose, just as her patients are asked to do. She said the patients didn't like it, but they drank it anyway. She said making sure the food she prepares is something her patients will eat is important, rather than just
giving them a recipe and telling them to fix it.
"I make these recipes and send the food home with the patients in a Styrofoam container so they can give their families a taste. If no one is going to eat it, there's no sense in making it," Valdez said.
According to Dialysis Manager Laurie Okkema, the dialysis staff is always looking for creative approaches to enhance the quality of life for their patients.
"I value Terri's commitment to our patient's well being and the effort she makes in preparing delicious recipes for our patients to sample,"
Okkema said. "Blue Mountain Hospital Dialysis is fortunate to have such a committed professional patient care team."