Nutrition Tips: Decreased Appetite
Offer high caloric drink foods such as ice cream, milk shakes, or eggnog. Offer familiar foods. Favorite foods can stimulate the appetite. Try making the main meal of the day at lunch when the appetite is larger. Sit directly in front of the person and show each spoonful to help them orient.
Allow time between bites and check mouth periodically for food in the cheek. You may need to remind the person to swallow. Gently stroking the throat will help to stimulate swallowing. Observe what food textures cause the most difficulty. Liquids can be thickened with gelatin or applesauce. Solids can be moistened or pureed for easier swallowing.
Keep a food diary to enhance nutrition dialogue with the person’s doctor. Include what foods they have problems or complications digesting and record their daily food menus. Review it with their doctor or dietician for feedback. They may be experiencing digestive problems or irritable bowl syndrome due to their menu.
Presentation is key so serve appetizing looking meals by accenting plates with a garnish (i.e. strawberry, coconut flakes or melon). Make the dining experience pleasant for the person you are caring for by playing soft music, lighting candles or talking to them about the day’s events while they are eating to take their minds off not feeling well.
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Gary Barg is the Editor-in-Chief of Today's Caregiver Magazine, caregiver.com and the Caregiver Newsletter. You can received his newsletter for free by going to caregiver.com and signing up.