Cooking up Collaboration: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Promote Success in the Kitchen for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

Thursday, May 25, 2017
B2 (New Orleans Convention Center)
Karolina M Korzeniewski, BSc RD , Nutrition Services, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, AB, Canada
Megan M Parker, MSc OT , Allied Health, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, AB, Canada
Karolina M Korzeniewski, BSc RD , Nutrition Services, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, AB, Canada

Background: Healthy eating can be challenging for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Along with misinformation on MS diets, people with MS have additional challenges including fatigue and physical and cognitive symptoms.  This impacts their ability to meal plan, grocery shop, and prepare meals. Collaboration between Dietitians (RD), Occupational Therapists (OT) and the YMCA/Wellness Centre located within the hospital allows for a unique and holistic approach to tackling these challenges in the kitchen. 

Objectives: Provide practical skills and knowledge in an interactive group format to increase participants’ confidence and ability to prepare healthy meals.

Methods: Fun, interactive and informal cooking workshops were designed by an RD and OT. Specific healthy recipes were chosen to highlight concepts such as energy conservation and cognitive compensatory strategies, use of adaptive kitchen devices, healthy eating choices, and the benefits of specific nutrients in MS. Food samples were provided at the end of each class, which allowed for unstructured time for participants to connect with each other and the Healthcare Providers.

Results: Participants completed program evaluations. Data was collected over the course of 14 separate cooking classes. There were 109 responses in total. Participants felt that they learned a significant amount (4.3/5) and were satisfied with the class (4.8/5). They reported feeling more confident in their ability to plan and prepare healthy recipes. The group structure also allowed for a supportive environment in which participants felt comfortable to share their personal successes and struggles. Based on the feedback, an additional hands-on class that enables participants to use and trial adapted cooking devices has been developed. Finally, the ongoing collaboration with the YMCA/Wellness Centre provided participants with free passes to the YMCA.

Conclusions: The cooking workshops provide a unique opportunity for collaboration between RD, OT, and the local YMCA/Wellness Centre. Participants were provided with a comprehensive and supportive approach to managing challenges in the kitchen brought on by their MS. Based on the incredible feedback and participant satisfaction, these workshops have been expanded and will continue to be offered.