18/06/2015 06:16 BST | Updated 17/06/2016 06:59 BST

A Parkinson's Dinner Party

Feeling a warm soft furry body next to my legs in the kitchen, I glanced down to see our young puppy looking hopefully up at me. Those beguiling eyes are enough to melt the coldest of hearts. Having a dog around the house again is a good feeling. Although Rosie will be trained as an assistance dog to help me as I battle with living with Gaucher and Parkinson's each day, at the moment she depends on me. Rosie is settling in well and tirelessly follows me around the house. Like any infant, she eats, plays, does her business and sleeps in-between. It's a tough life being a cute puppy!

Inviting family over for dinner, a three course meal with all the trimmings, never phased me, whether it was 12 or 20 people. Having lived with Parkinson's for 8 years now, I hate to admit, I am no longer the whizz I once was in the kitchen, and have slowed down to such a degree, it's amazing my family get fed at all. Just deciding what to cook can throw a spanner in the works. Planning to invite family over for dinner, I knew I'd have to be super organised, and found myself writing endless lists and sticking them on the fridge door, as if in training for an OCD contest.

Having Parkinson's and making a dinner party, requires military style organisation as many things have to be thought of. I try to choose a menu where most of the dishes can be prepared in advance, sticking to simple delicious fail-proof recipes I've made before which require little work and few ingredients. I cook from scratch avoiding anything ready-made or containing artificial colouring or preservatives, and steer away from fried or overly rich dishes. One further consideration is with what ease I'll be able to eat what I've made, without spilling or dropping food in front of company. So if you take all these things into account, a great deal of planning is required.

Some foods can increase dopamine naturally, but sadly not enough to warrant taking less Parkinson medication. Anything that may help, give some relief or make me feel a little better, is worth the effort, after all, what we eat has a direct effect on our general wellbeing, mood, appetite and cravings. Needless to say, we all know a healthy balanced diet using natural unprocessed foods is the best scenario. However knowing what to do, and actually putting it into practice, not to mention sticking to it, is another thing entirely. It takes willpower and determination.

Fresh fish is wonderful if you have access to a good fishmonger. My husband and I once went fishing, but I have to admit it was just a little too exciting for our tastes (I say with great sarcasm and apologies to those who enjoy fishing!) What really put a dampener on fishing for me, was continually being told to stop talking for it was disturbing the fish! Needless to say, for a chatterbox like myself, this did not sit well, so we decided to stick to buying fresh fish from the market.

Surrounded at dinner with family and friends around the table, encourages interaction and is great quality time spent together whilst enjoying the pleasures of a home cooked meal. Despite the work involved with entertaining, the rewards are great and lift the spirits. I may need to rest for a day or two afterwards, but the exertion is well worth it.

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