“Food has been
the main topic in our house for the last year,” shares
an anonymous patient on the Cancer Survivor Network web
site. “My husband says he’s tired of hearing about what
I can or can’t eat. I couldn’t do Ensure or Boost at
all. I’m not sure how I survived the six months—lost 55
pounds. . So for you caregivers, please be patient. Keep
trying different foods.”
cringe as they feed loved ones the same meal day-in and
day-out. The dilemmas of a liquid diet disturb not only
victims of cancer, but also many other patients and
caregivers dealing with lesser-known health issues. The
diet-limiting aspects of diseases like Parkinson’s,
Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Disease, and progressive
dementia can discourage even the most dedicated
caregivers. The irrepressible tremors of Parkinson’s
make eating a near impossible task. Dementia can cause
even the thought process involved in eating to be a
struggle. Because of denture problems, chewing is also a
liquid or pureed diet is the best solution to eating
problems. The patient receives the important nutrients
he needs, but without the laborious struggle of spending
over an hour to consume only a few bites. But sometimes
the added nutrition can come at the cost of taste. Lack
of appetite is a typical problem among the elderly,
which is only enhanced if the meal is unappealing. This
doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some helpful new
menu options to spice up the liquid diet of your loved
Yogurt and fruit
make breakfast tasty and healthy. Many yogurt drinks are
on the dairy aisle of any grocery store. Also try buying
plain yogurt, and then add your own fruit blends. Just
make sure to puree the fruit to a manageable
consistency. Yogurt is rich in calcium, and fruits are
great sources for other vitamins.
For a drink,
cranberry juice acts as a superb preventative measure
against UTI’s (urinary tract infections) that often
plague older or bedridden people. Cran-grape juice
tastes wonderful to someone who would wince at a glass
of straight cranberry juice. Rich antioxidants permeate
Thin oatmeal or
cream of wheat provides necessary fiber, but you can add
some taste by layering it with pureed fruit, molasses,
or brown sugar. Shoot for the maximum amount of calories
or sugar in the least amount of food because eating
difficulties and a lack of appetite can lead to
malnutrition. Top off breakfast with a cup of warm hot
chocolate. In the place of a generic hot chocolate mix,
substitute a chocolate heath-drink supplement, which is
richer in vitamins.
Lunch can be a
monotonous meal. Often seniors don’t work up a lunch
time appetite, especially if they eat a late breakfast.
Sometimes a well-made fruit smoothie is a rich but not
overwhelming meal. A fruit smoothie is a blended
combination of frozen fruits, ice, and other
ingredients. There are innumerable smoothie recipes
ingredient for any smoothie is the thickening agent.
Yogurt or pureed bananas work well. Bananas are a great
source of potassium. You can easily sneak some carrot
juice into a fruit smoothie without damaging the taste.
In fact, the vegetable juice helps temper the sweetness.
Don’t feel as if you have to use fresh fruit all the
time. Blended frozen fruit helps to thicken the
consistency. A smoothie is a great way to tailor the
liquid diet to personal tastes and to exercise
Soup is a staple
for a liquid diet, but that doesn’t mean that it has to
be tasteless or overdone. Countless canned soups and
soup recipes are out there. Cheese based and potato
based soups are good for a liquid diet, but almost any
soup can be pureed so that it is easy to swallow.
If you are in a
hurry and don’t have time to stop and puree the soup,
some name-brand soups market drinkable, microwavable
soups. Make sure the soup is not too hot, but also
remember that warm foods are easier to taste.
doctors would recommend eating just dessert for lunch,
Jell-O’s and puddings are great side items as a source
of protein and calcium. A variety of flavors are
available, and fruit can be added too.
puddings and Jell-O repairs muscle and tissues.
Bedsores, which plague older bedridden people, can take
additional time to heal without protein. Puddings are
also a perfect medium for crushed medicine that cannot
be swallowed in capsule form. Help your loved one
remember the good old days. Get creative with the
presentation of Jell-O by using molds.
A Cuisinart or
blender is the most essential tool for a liquid or soft
diet. Basically by using one of these, you are cutting
out one step in the process of eating: chewing. Most
vegetables can be blended, but make sure you still
include traditional spices.
Many meats can be
blended with broth. Be careful about the presentation of
these courses. Try not to be too exotic in what you
blend together. Two great tools for cooking no-chew
meals are The I-Can’t-Chew Cookbook and The
Easy-to-Swallow, Easy-to-Chew Cookbook, which are
available online at Amazon.
perfect for a liquid diet. This is where diet
supplements can be used unabashedly. These shakes are
packed with vitamins and protein. They come in multiple
flavors: French vanilla, strawberry, chocolate,
hazelnut, berry blend, etc. Instant coffee grounds can
be added to give drinks added flavor. Ice cream adds
important calories. You can also blend in fruit to
contribute to the taste. Experiment!
suggestions and entice your loved one to eat a healthy
and tasty liquid meal. Use your own creativity and
tailor these ideas to the needs of your patient. As in
any healthcare situation, be sure you consult your loved
one’s doctor about diet alterations. Healthcare
professionals are wonderful sources for dietary
suggestions. Even they enjoy swapping recipes. So, go
for it! Try something new on the menu.
Hindman is from Greenville, South Carolina. She is a
caregiver to her grandmother who is living with
Parkinson’s disease. She teams up with her mother, a
retired RN, and sister to provide her grandmother with
twenty-four hour care. Rebekah wants to help relieve the
monotony other caregivers and loved ones face with the
limitations of a liquid diet.
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