When life gives you lemons: The effectiveness of culinary group intervention among cancer patients

Soc Sci Med. 2016 Oct;166:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.046. Epub 2016 Aug 2.


Rationale: Previous studies have shown that the dietary habits of cancer patients and survivors have significant implications for their recovery and quality of life. The current study examined the effectiveness of an innovative culinary group intervention on cancer patients' quality of life through changes in their eating behaviors, as manifested by an increase in their tendency towards intuitive eating and healthy food choices.

Methods: In total, 190 cancer patients participated in this study, and were allocated to an intervention or a wait-list control group. A battery of self-report questionnaires assessing food choices, intuitive eating, health-related quality of life, and subjective well-being was administered at two time points: Before the intervention (T1) and at the end of the three month intervention (T2).

Results: Analyses revealed an increase in health-related quality of life and well-being among the intervention group. Intuitive eating and healthy food choices also increased among the intervention but not wait-list control group. Finally, results indicated that participation in the culinary group intervention and improvements in health-related quality of life and well-being were mediated by changes in eating behaviors.

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that nutrition and eating behaviors have a significant effect on cancer patients' physical and emotional adjustment. A culinary group intervention seems to target patients' physical and emotional needs and promote their adjustment.

Keywords: Cancer; Culinary group intervention; Eating behaviors; Intuitive eating; Quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cooking / methods*
  • Diet Therapy / methods*
  • Diet Therapy / standards
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires