This is nice to know! Southwest Nursing News | Albuquerque Nurse Creates Cookbook for Dialysis Patients

Elizabeth Evans, a nurse practitioner at Renal Medical Associates in Albuquerque, N.M., enjoys a close therapeutic relationship with her dialysis patients. Because she evaluates and monitors their care every week and spends most of the day on the dialysis unit, Evans has many opportunities to interact with patients and provide appropriate health guidance. Proper nutrition is one important aspect of an overall treatment plan for her renal patients.

"I was concerned that patients were having difficulty following diets that were low in phosphorous, potassium, and sodium," explained Evans. "To complicate things even more, a large number of our clients also have diabetes, so they need to watch calories and carbohydrate levels.

"It's often difficult to adhere to a proper diet since most recipe books don't provide information on specific levels of minerals and nutrients that are critical for dialysis patients. Additionally, the recipes may not be familiar to our New Mexico clients, many of whom are of Mexican or Native American heritage."

Evans' solution was to compile a booklet of favorite recipes for patients and provide information on pertinent nutritional values in each of those recipes, such as number of calories, grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrate as well as mg. levels of phosphorous, potassium, and sodium.

"It took several months to put together our cookbook. I was assisted by one of the patients who provided some favorite recipes. We used several databases to calculate specific nutritional elements. After typing up the recipes and information, I put it together in a logical format. One of the staff dietitians on the unit did a final review of the material."

The result is an inexpensive, patient-friendly cookbook divided into five categories — appetizers, sauces, side dishes, main dishes, and desserts. The booklet is printed on standard paper with colored paper in between sections. The print is large to accommodate visually impaired clients. Health tips are sprinkled throughout the text to increase patient understanding and compliance.

Five hundred recipe booklets were distributed to dialysis patients during the holiday season. One patient said, "This is the first Christmas gift I've ever received from a nurse."

Evans included the nutrient value of several fast food items in the booklet. This information was especially helpful to patients who like to eat out.

As time passed, patients and family members appreciated the booklet as a useful educational tool. One patient explained, "The cookbook is a good thing to have around. The information tells me how I need to alter a recipe so it's healthier for me." One family member simply said, "The cookbook was a blessing."

When Evans first had the idea to create a cookbook, she applied for a grant. Unfortunately, the funding was denied. She realizes now she was probably asking for too much money. She ended up paying for the printing out of pocket.

"I'm already looking at my next project," she said. "I'm planning an annual nephrology workshop for nurses. The proceeds from this event will go towards a Christmas party for our dialysis patients."

From Nursing Spectrum.