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Foods for Stroke

By Marie Santangelo, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

Loved ones know the impact their illness has on the family and may struggle against using special utensils or following a dietary change.  When a caregiver takes control and incorporates changes in diet and exercise into the family matrix, everyone benefits.  There are no excuses for why dietary changes aren’t followed because there are no differences in “who gets what.”

Stroke can diminish the capability to chew and swallow.  The patient who enjoyed vegetables and salads may not be able to handle these larger pieces.  Adapting to chopped salads and vegetables can be an option.  Wilted or “cooked” salads have made their way into finer restaurants and can be featured on your dinner table.  This simple change in a meal will offer everyone at the table something new to try together.

Mealtime is favored by many households as a time to get together, chat, and connect.  Food, its taste and presentation bring people together in many ways.  Instead of caregivers feeling stress about preparing more than one meal type, new dishes can be served and evaluated.

Since the taste of food may be altered after a stroke, and the patient placed on a sodium restricted diet, suggestions for flavoring can be obtained from the dietician.  Asking about products like dulse or seaweed to replace salt is an option.  They also add healthy minerals to dishes in ways iodized salt doesn’t.

Soups can be an easy option as an entrée as long as a caregiver is not required to monitor fluid intake and output.  Even when fluid is restricted, a balance can be found by changing portion size to fit the fluid intake restrictions.  Stews and other broth-based items like gravies and sauces have to be included in fluid intake as well.  However, this is where portion control for the whole family comes in, and is an advantage.

Finding Alternatives:

Jar sauces provide a great deal of convenience when cooking, but the sodium content and other additives may be deemed off limits after a stroke.  A caregiver may be encouraged to cook with fresh ingredients, but this may not be practical on a day-to-day basis.  However, cooking ahead and keeping some things frozen may be a way to save time and stress while using homemade ingredients.  The time spent one day will be saved by reheating on following days.

Sauces and gravies work well when reheated carefully.  A crock pot can be set on low at day’s start, with the meal ready by dinnertime. 

Whole grains like amaranth can be cooked well and mixed with other cereals like grits or oatmeal.  Amaranth has a surprising quality of being very gravy-like in consistency, and can work as a gravy alternative.  Since it also holds other flavors well, small amounts of honey and cinnamon or other “warm” spices keep away the salt factor while retaining flavor.


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