Dieticians paid for by Sheffield Hospitals Charity donations have carefully pieced together an enticing menu that’s further enhancing the care of cystic fibrosis patients in the city.

The new array of culinary treats on offer at the cystic fibrosis unit at the Northern General Hospital, has earned the praise of Stacey-Lea who has lived with the condition since she was a baby.

Stacey, aged 29, from Rotherham, says the charity-funded menu has turned around what for many cystic fibrosis patients is amongst the most challenging aspects of their condition- lack of appetite.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-limiting condition which affects around 10,000 people in the UK.

Stacey said: “I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when I was six weeks old. I was failing to thrive, not gaining weight and had malnutrition.

“I spend a lot of time in and out of hospital with infections – usually around six times a year, for about two weeks. Sometimes I’m well enough to come in for a week then finish treatment at home. But as I’ve got older the time I spend in hospital is longer.

“My digestion is affected because I can’t absorb the nutrients and the fats that most people can easily do, so I take lots of enzyme capsules before each meal to help me to digest my food. 

“One of the hardest things about living with cystic fibrosis is trying to keep on top of my calorie intake. I often have a lack of appetite due to producing excess sputum and abdominal pain, and when infection occurs it can impact this also.

“This new menu helps entice me to eat when my appetite is low. When I’m ill I prefer home cooking and the new menu provides the type of food I would normally have so it make it easier for me to eat. The routine of hospital meal times can be difficult for me, as having treatments such as physiotherapy can interrupt this. On the unit I can eat at any time.

“This new menu is fun and enticing, it’s not too much to take in but enough to grab my attention and make me want to eat something, which in turn aids my ability to fight off infections."

Stacey continued: “I’m a big fan of toasties and I love cheese, so anything on the menu with cheese I love. I also had a curry with onion bhajis and samosas last week which was lovely, and the milkshakes and lattes are great.

“I’m a graze eater, so this menu also opens up the options for much smaller meals. I can also order food when I want, even if it’s at 10oclock at night.”

Cystic fibrosis is a life-limiting condition which affects about 10,000 people in the UK. Cystic fibrosis patients experience a build-up of thick sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive system and other organs, causing a wide range of challenging symptoms affecting the whole body.

In digestion, the tubes that transport enzymes out of the pancreas become blocked with this mucus. As a result, people with the condition have to take medication to replace these enzymes with their meals to help digest their food.

Following a high calorie, high fat diet improves nutritional status, which in turn is associated with improved survival rates. But those living with cystic fibrosis have low appetites due to sputum production, abdominal pain and vomiting.

“The design of the menu was also influenced by our patients."

To meet their requirements better, Sheffield Hospitals Charity funded a two year post for two dieticians to create a new menu for cystic fibrosis patients, which is offered in addition to the regular hospital lunch and dinner service.

Ailsa Milne, Specialist dietician on the cystic fibrosis unit, said: “We asked patients with cystic fibrosis to determine what their choice of foods would be, what they liked and didn’t like and analysed these findings with the current hospital foods they were getting at that time. The design of the menu was also influenced by our patients.

“We looked at restaurant menus to try to give them lots of choice. The menu offers non-traditional hospital foods which appeal to our key patient group of teenage and young adults.

“The food is also presented on pretty plates, with salad garnishes rather than a standard hospital plate. We also add extras like squirty cream and trimmings on milkshakes and lattes, which not only make the them look more appetising, but also add extra calories.

“The menus so far have been highly successful, not only due to the choices, but as we keep the foods in the fridges and freezers on the wards, they are not limited to set timings for their meals.”

Donate funds to enhance the care of cystic fibrosis patients in the city today.