Food for thought! CIUSSS nutritionists pour expertise into two new books

Clinical Nutritionists Kalifa Rodriguez and Johnie Ting
Clinical Nutritionists Kalifa Rodriguez and Johnie Ting

Do you know kids who are finicky eaters? Or a cancer patient who’s looking to cook up healthy meals? In separate projects, two clinical nutritionists from our CIUSSS have concocted creative ways to help.

Eating These Foods Makes Me...

Kalifa Rodriguez, a Clinical Nutritionist based at the Jewish General Hospital, has published a children’s book aimed at instilling healthy eating habits from an early age. Entitled Eating These Foods Makes Me …, it’s a non-fiction publication suitable for children 6 years old and under.

“My main goal was to empower kids and make them feel confident and excited about building a healthy relationship with food,” Ms. Rodriguez says.

The inspiration for the initiative was her two-year-old daughter, who was born prematurely and spent two months in a neonatal intensive care unit. During that time, she had books read to her by volunteers, which stirred Ms. Rodriguez’s literary ambitions. “My interest in children’s books went through the roof,” she says.

As her daughter grew older, she also began to pose “eating challenges” that motivated Ms. Rodriguez to put her ideas in writing. “I thought, ‘Maybe I should write a book for parents and caregivers who might have picky eaters at home. I could provide a resource for them where they could explore healthy foods with their kids in a gentle, safe, no-pressure environment.’”

Cooking with Joy, Digesting with Ease

Ms. Rodriguez emphasizes that the book can benefit all children, “picky eaters or not.” Illustrated by characters from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, it focuses on children’s mental well-being by using positive affirmations.

Johnie Ting, a JGH-based Clinical Nutritionist in Oncology, has contributed his expertise to a cookbook for stomach cancer patients and their caregivers. Cooking with Joy, Digesting with Ease features recipes that are both nutritious and can be tolerated by patients undergoing cancer treatment.

People with stomach cancer can experience symptoms of indigestion, such as nausea, bloating, heartburn and pain, which can take pleasure out of mealtime. The cookbook seeks to “bring back joy to eating and cooking” for these patients, Mr. Ting says.

While he used his scientific know-how to create recipes that contained essential nutrients, Mr. Ting also tested each one of them to ensure they were flavourful, affordable and simple to follow. “We wanted to keep it simple, fun, tasty and easy to digest,” he explains.

Donna Schafer, Chief of Clinical Nutrition at CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, praised the contributions of the two nutritionists on her team.

“Congratulations to both Johnie and Kalifa on these wonderful achievements,” she says. “They’re contributing to the health of our patients and the community by creating useful and creative resources for clients of different ages and stages in their nutrition care. We’re very proud!”

For details on ordering Eating These Foods Makes Me, visit Kalifa Rodriguez’s website.

Cooking with Joy, Digesting with Ease is the latest in a series by Nourish, a Canadian website designed to help patients play an active role in their cancer treatment. The recipes can be downloaded for free. Hard copies are available from the reception desk at the JGH Radiation Oncology Clinic, Room G-18.