Click to Eat Healthy

New Web site offers recipes tailored to personal preferences

Figuring out what to cook for dinner can be a drag in any household, but when a cancer diagnosis is thrown into the mix, it gets even trickier.

That's why the U-M Cancer Center recently launched a new Web site to help spice up your next meal. Cancer Center Recipes Just for You is a Web site that will help patients and families develop healthy meal plans specific to their needs. It may have the added benefit of encouraging people to consume more fruits and vegetables, which may help to prevent cancer and its recurrence, said Ed Saunders, deputy director of the Center for Health Communications at the U-M Cancer Center.

The searchable database of recipes was developed by Graham Kerr, the former “Galloping Gourmet” star who is now a leading advocate of healthy eating.

"My life's work is focused on finding effective culinary solutions for those caught up in the chaos of our times," Kerr said. "And in so doing, I hope to discover a truly creative synergism between science and the senses."

The Web site originated as part of a study to determine whether people would eat healthier if they had access to an interactive Web site that allowed them to develop meal plans tailored to their taste. The study was completed recently, but results are not yet available, Saunders said.

Since the Web site was already developed, the Cancer Center decided to make the tailored recipes section available for public use, he said, adding that no user data will be collected for research purposes.

"We hope the Web site will help to pique curiosity about new fruits and vegetables," Saunders said. "We also hope the site helps people find more appealing ways to prepare healthy foods that they already know they like."

Web site users can fill out a questionnaire about food. Based on their preferences, the site generates a suggested meal plan. By completing a free registration, users can save their preferences and recipes to refer back to them later.

In the future, the site will also include options for people who may have eating issues related to their cancer as well as specific dietary restrictions or food allergies, said Cancer Center dietitian Joan Daniels.

"Whether you're looking for options packed with protein to help ward off the side effects of cancer treatment or just hoping to introduce more fruits and vegetables into your diet, the Web site will help you find what you're looking for," she said.

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Thrive Issue: 
Fall, 2007