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Patients of Yulu-Burri-Ba North Stradbroke Island now have access to free healthy cooking lessons thanks to an initiative to increase cooking skills to tackle chronic disease.
The program is designed to teach participants basic skills using healthy, affordable and readily available ingredients.
The classes, run by Advanced Indigenous Healthcare Worker Judi Lord, are held on a fortnightly basis with a focus on chronic disease management and prevention.
“This is a great opportunity to have a conversation about chronic disease self management,” Judi said.
“Good nutrition plays a vital role in chronic disease and this is an area patients can make a huge difference to their health.”
Chronic Disease Dietitian Naomi Scolari said she believed there was a need to improve healthy cooking skills on the island.
“Many of my patients with a chronic disease have limited access to complex utensils/cooking appliances so it is not unusual for my patients to only have access to a fire and esky/camp fridge for storing cold items.
“All of the recipes used in the classes are able to be cooked on a camp fire with limited utensils and using ingredients available on the island.”
Naomi said another barrier to healthy eating was the belief that healthy eating was expensive.
“Many of my patients feel it is too expensive to cook healthy food; a view which isn’t helped by modern recipes that are becoming more and more complex and often with expensive and hard to find ingredients.
“The aim of the group is to show participants how they can cook cheap healthy meals in less than 30 minutes.”
She said time was also dedicated to discussing food budgets and how to use them wisely.
“For example with a $50 food budget (as a basic guide), patients should be spending roughly $20 on vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, $15 on fruit and dairy products/alternatives, $10 on meat and meat alternatives and $5 or less on oils and spreads.
“We also recognise a lack of confidence in home cooking and chronic disease self-management so we are using these classes as a platform to re-focus health across the community.
“It is important we start to take a proactive rather than reactive view of chronic disease and this class is a back to basics look at cooking and chronic disease management,” Naomi said.
She said the cooking classes were also designed to promote the management of chronic disease among patients on the island.
“We are also hoping to spread awareness about the services available to patients including a visiting cardiac nurse, respiratory nurse, Diabetes educator and dietitian.
“In the future, we hope to expand the program to involve patients’ own recipes with a focus on bush tucker and the sharing of knowledge.”