Making healthy homemade meals is an easy way to control your salt intake, reducing your risk of stroke. Studies suggest cooking can also help reduce depression and anxiety and help build social connections.
Chris King, 55 from Sandwich, Kent, shared his passion for food in a 30-year career as a chef. But his life changed in an instant when a stroke left him paralysed down his left side.
'No longer being able to do the job I loved left me feeling lost and very low. I felt hopeless and like a burden to everyone, and to be honest, I just wanted to call it a day,' he remembers.
'Then one day I decided to see if my experience could help other people who were in a similar situation. It was the best thing I ever did.'
Chris offered his services as a volunteer at Chequers Kitchen cookery school in Deal. Now he shares his skills with other stroke survivors, showing them how to cook delicious, fresh meals. This autumn, he's running online classes hosted by the Stroke Association for stroke survivors in the south of England.
'Getting back in the kitchen gave me a purpose and a chance to help others. It gave me something to look forward to,' he says. 'It was nice to put my experience to good use and help people who are struggling with anxiety or confidence. It's great when I see people realise: 'If he can do it, what's my excuse to say I can't?''
What we eat plays an important role in stroke prevention, explains Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and adviser to our partners LoSaltÂ®.
'Sodium in salt is linked to high blood pressure, which is a contributing factor in around half of all strokes,' she says.
'We're consuming 8.4g of salt a day, which is far too much and way beyond the maximum intake of 6g that is recommended.
'But making changes to your diet doesn't have to be difficult. A few simple actions can have a big impact on your overall health and wellbeing.'
Chris agrees: 'When I cook fresh food, I know I have control over salt, fat and sugar content, and that gives me confidence in what I'm eating. I still enjoy a good cake or biscuit, or my favourite TV dinner - homemade pizza. But because I make them myself, I know what's in them.'
Discover the Losalt recipe we shared in Stroke News.
- LoSalt® contains 66% less sodium than regular salts.
- This autumn, for every promotional tub sold, LoSalt® will donate 20p to the Stroke Association to help us rebuild lives after stroke.
- Find out more about LoSalt®'s Season with Sense campaign.
- If you take medication that affects potassium levels, for conditions including diabetes, heart or kidney disorders, speak to your GP first to check if reduced-sodium salt alternatives are suitable for you.
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the winter 2021 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.