My Story

The Food Manifesto is an online culinary support based membership for HNC (Head & Neck Cancer) patients transitioning from PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) to oral eating. Providing community support to patients, carers and individuals wanting advice and support on ingredients, food, recipes and cooking techniques for those that suffer dysphagia as a result of HNC treatment.

The Food Manifesto came into existence in 2016. Founded by Yvonne McClaren to educate people about the ease in which you can plan, purchase and cook food to suit your individual lifestyle and budget. Preparing food in every day life, carrying that knowledge when travelling, foraging and eating locally and abroad.

Formerly a corporate executive in the not for profit sector, Yvonne studied Hospitality after leaving school and acquired a Diploma in Hospitality Business Management specialising in wine making and food and wine appreciation. The course offered meticulous chef training using French culinary methods, menu planning & kitchen design, alongside the usual business study units of finance and marketing.

Yvonne’s career took an unusual turn after graduating from hotels and tourism to the not for profit sector where she excelled at turning member based organisations around financially – using food and wine within events as one of her tactics. It proved a winning formula that was to be tested again and again. Keen to teach and mentor others using her knowledge of food/ kitchens / wine and sourcing of product – The Food Manifesto was born.

In 2018 having just relocated to Vietnam, Yvonne was experiencing a persistent sore throat. It turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma or tonsil cancer. What was to follow included surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and the insertion of a PEG.

You can read her full story here and here.

It also dictated a major shift in the philosophy and values of The Food Manifesto .

Post cancer Yvonne was a keen fitness advocate, now 15 kilos lighter and fitter than she has ever been, The Food Manifesto became Yvonne’s guiding light through the challenging journey of healing. It became the vehicle with which she would focus her strategy creation for diet, exercise, meditation, massage & physiotherapy to transition from PEG to oral eating. The Food Manifesto is now the vehicle to help and support others going through a similar journey. The realisation there was not a great deal of information about what to eat and how to prepare food for PEG use, or how to start eating again orally after being on a PEG for a long time. The Information provided included eat protein and keep your weight up. Not a lot to go on if you are not experienced in nutrition and know your way around a kitchen.

Learning to eat again, chewing, swallowing and preparing food from scratch. This became a major issue when trying to transition from PEG back to oral eating.

Some 15 months post treatment, The Food Manifesto had realised its true purpose to help others with HNC, navigate the landscape of food. I create and provide recipes, kitchen skills, shopping lists, pantry staple ideas and how to incorporate nutritional balance in your daily meal planning. Exclusive education, research resources, webinars and access to recorded masterclasses.

A labour of love that continues to develop with each recipe developed, airline ticket purchased and each PEG that is removed. You can read more about the upcoming book Easy Follow Easy Swallow here.

Membership subscriptions are available here.

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