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Interview with Elena Stefanyuk

Donor's breakfast is complicated and reluctant at the same time topic for donors. The list of prohibited products before a donation is quite long. Therefore, drawing up a donor's breakfast menu is almost a challenge. How to make a balanced, interesting and tasty menu? Donors regularly ask themselves this question. Apparently, this is the reason for the activity and creativity of the participants in the donor contest. How the competition was organized and held, why healthy eating habits are so important for blood donors, and is there an ideal donor's menu - Elena Stefanyuk answers, Director of the National Fund for Health Development, Deputy Chairman of the Coordinating Council for Blood Donation at the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.

Tell us please more about the contest.

In the social project "Laboratory of donor movement" we have developed in 2020 a contest called “Donor has a tasty menu” in order to help donors in preparing food and stay healthy during different stages of donation It was implemented with the support of the Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Moscow Population and the Blood Service of the FMBA of Russia.

We not only announced and successfully conducted a recipe contest on social networks from April to September, but also filmed a series of culinary video masterclasses as part of an online workshop on organizing the rational nutrition of blood donors, conducted a live broadcast on Instagram, and organized educational activities in social networks - such a practice-oriented platform has appeared. By the way, the competition started on the Day of the Donor in Russia on April 20, and LIVE and filming of culinary masterclasses were timed to coincide with World Blood Donor Day on June 14.

We offered ready-made recipe solutions aimed at preventing inappropriate preparation for donation and behavior after. Dishes developed by a professional chef help to recuperate powers after donating blood and/or its components, and information about donation included in culinary master classes allow these videos to be used as tools to promote donation and motivate people to responsible donation and proper nutrition.

Well, the real guide to the "challenge", which you call the donor's menu, is the collection of recipes for proper nutrition for donors of blood and its components, released in the fall as “Donor has a tasty menu”. It clearly shows that the donor's nutrition not only has its own characteristics but can and should be tasty, varied, and consistent with the rules of a healthy lifestyle. Experts and partners of the National Foundation for Health Development (NFDH) took part in the development of the collection - chefs, culinary bloggers, culinary studios, doctors, and, of course, donors of blood and its components themselves. In addition, the collection includes general information about who can be a donor in Russia, preparation rules for donation, and behavior after, about the required chemical and energy composition of the donor's diet.

How did the idea of the contest “Donor has a tasty menu” come up?

Since 2016, our foundation has been holding the #BreakfastDonor media competition. At first, Instagram was the venue, then we expanded our presence - we added other social networks. We started by accepting photographs; later, both photos and videos were included in the competition. The tasks of the competition were to promote information that is necessary to have proper breakfast before donation, and spread it to the friends of the competition participants so they also get involved in donation, receive reliable information.

With the development of the competition, more and more often, participants began to submit ideas that for proper donation it is important not only to prepare well in the morning before donating blood, but also to lead a certain “donor lifestyle” in general and that many have their own ways of “culinary recovery” - donor lunch, donor dinner. At the same time, in the comments to posts about donation, we sometimes met the opinion that a healthy lifestyle is, of course, good, but is boring and tasteless.

This is how the idea of a competition arose, which will show that the donor's nutrition in a certain phase differs from just eating a healthy lifestyle, and in addition, it can be both healthy and proper.

The competition consisted of several nominations-sections. Why was such a thematic division of recipes chosen?

We have introduced two nominations - “Recipes for donors. Recipes from donors "and" Recipes of the homeland. " In addition, everyone who published the prescription had to indicate for which period - on the morning before donation, after donating blood and/or its components, or during the recovery period between donations: the donor must clearly understand the difference in nutrition in different “donor phases". We wanted to give the participants an opportunity not only to show off their culinary talents but also to show the cultural (and cooking is part of the culture) diversity of our country.

The competition included a section with national cuisine recipes. What recipes in this section were especially interesting or surprised?

Perhaps these are recipes for Dargin khinkali and Belgorod pies. Khinkali is not even a dish, but a whole complex of dishes. These are pieces of dough boiled in broth, with lamb or beef, which are eaten dipped in sauce and washed down with strong meat broth with spices. This set of dishes contains everything you need to restore the body after donating blood. And Belgorod pies with various fillings are a dish for which the dough can be prepared without milk and eggs, so the dish is suitable for any period of the donor regimen. The peasants of the Chernozem region did not have a surplus of eggs and milk, but a lush, tasty dough was obtained even without these products.

Winning recipes - what is their secret? Why did they interest the jury so much that they became the best in the competition?

Those who clearly understood (and wrote about it in the contest post), for what period the recipe was intended, described in detail the preparation of the dish, and took attractive photographs, were able to win the recipe competition. And, of course, they showed a personal attitude not only to cooking but also to blood donation. This was clearly seen from the comments to the posts with competitive entries.

Why is the list of prohibited products before donation so important for a blood donor?

Nutrition is a part of a person's lifestyle, but the donor's nutrition becomes not only his personal business. The donor's lifestyle is largely subordinated to the “donor cycle” - recovery after donation, preparation for donation, donation point. So the donor will be able to help those for whom he donates blood and its components fully effectively.

What is the ideal blood donor menu?

In short, healthy and meaningful. The ideal menu is perfectly suited to the donor's task - to prepare for a donation, recuperate after donating blood, and lead a responsible lifestyle in general between donations. In the morning before donation, a light breakfast is required; blood and its components are not donated on an empty stomach. Breakfast can be water porridge or pasta, both without oil; sweet tea, fruit drinks, mineral water, juice; bread, crackers, drying, cookies; vegetables and fruits. On the eve and on the day of donating blood or its components, you must not eat fatty, fried, spicy, and smoked foods, sausages, meat, fish, as well as dairy products, cheese, eggs, and butter, including vegetable; bananas, dates, tomatoes, citrus fruits, beets, nuts, avocados, chocolate, sugary carbonated drinks, including energy drinks. However, fatty, overcooked, extremely spicy, salty, pickled, smoked - those dishes that do not comply with the rules of healthy eating at any time.

Recovery after a donation is an important process. What foods or eating habits can help you recover after giving blood faster?

During the first two days after donating blood, it is better to have food with a high level of iron - liver, beef, lamb, and so on. Iron supplements are taken only on the recommendation of a doctor! It is necessary to control the drinking regime: on the day of donation and within 48 hours after, the donor needs to drink at least two liters of liquid per day - juices, water, not strong tea, fruit drinks.

Ideally, the donor should lead a healthy lifestyle fulltime, not just during the recovery phase or a few days before arriving at the blood transfusion station. Indeed, to ensure the procurement of safe and high-quality blood and its components for transfusion, one diet is not enough. The donor should get enough sleep, not abuse tobacco, or not smoke at all, reduce alcohol to a minimum, give up energy drinks, and do sports. The donor's lifestyle consists of the same terms as the usual lifestyle.

"Bon appetit, donor!" How does this wish differ from the same for an ordinary person?

Is the donor an unusual person? To a certain extent, of course, yes ... However, donors live among people, and the donation of blood and its components for a healthy person is not superheroism, this is the norm for those who are aware of their responsibility to society. Medicine has not yet come up with a fully effective way to replace donated blood, so the donor really saves lives. At the same time, donors can also be helped by someone who, for medical reasons, cannot donate blood or its components, but attracts people to donation - an organizer of donor actions, a volunteer. One dose of donated blood saves the lives of six children or three adults, and a donation volunteer can save hundreds, even thousands. And this is especially true today, on the day of our conversation, because December 5 is the International Day of Volunteers. And every participant in the donor movement is, literally, a health volunteer in the life movement.

We sincerely congratulate all participants of the blood donation institute on Volunteer's Day - this is our common holiday.

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