“Day Nineteen – You Are What You Eat
“Beloved, I pray… you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 (NASB)
A German philosopher once said, “You are what you eat.” What a troubling thought since I’ve devoured my share of the fast food. If I’d eaten just the hamburger patty and less of the bun, fries, and colas, I’d have a healthier body. Though the carbs and sugars are empty calories, the meat is protein. Grass-fed beef is even better yet.
Protein is an integral part of good health for the young and the old. While growing children need the building blocks, older people’s bodies do too. They use it to support muscle mass and combat illness. My mother’s lab results show a low protein level. According to her doctor, this condition is common among the elderly for two main reasons — reduced appetite and swallowing issues. Our older adults’ bodies don’t digest protein well.
Often, dementia patients refuse to eat. My mother says, “I don’t get hungry anymore.” If I ask her opinion of a once-enjoyed entrée, she responds, “It’s okay,” but she never compliments it. Once, she shouted, “Take this slop.”
Though she seldom eats a complete meal, she’ll always finish a dessert. So, I try to supplement her meals with sweet, healthful entrees, desserts, and snacks. For instance, I mix cottage cheese with sweetened applesauce for a tasty, sugary treat. I give her fruit-flavored yogurt with honey for dessert. So she won’t refuse it, I call it pudding. She eats it with a smile while receiving the extra protein her body needs.
Later, I offer her an icy protein shake. Though I’ve tried various brands, she prefers a more expensive one. We serve it with a soft cookie, to encourage her to finish the chocolate drink. For, most of us enjoy milk with our cookie.
Cookies have different nutritional value, so we check the protein or fiber content. Dementia patients often have trouble swallowing, so we choose the softer varieties. My mother spits out hard morsels such as a chocolate chip. So, I select the chewy brands.
I add vanilla protein powder to her bran flakes in the morning. It dissolves and enhances the flavor. I find whole A2 Milk is more digestible for Mom. Coconut milk is another alternative. If I sweeten her breakfast cereal, she’ll eat it.
Less appetite, chewing or swallowing dysfunction, and the body’s reduced ability to get nutrients from food, challenges us. If we switch to sweet, soft, nutritious meals and snacks, it may help.
Though we provide nutritious meals, our loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease will continue to deteriorate. But, we will still deliver loving care as best we can. Unless we take care of ourselves, though, we’ll suffer, too. Taking care of our physical bodies and souls is essential during this stressful time. We, like Saint John suggests, should strive to prosper in body and spirit.
Disclaimer-consult your doctor for nutrition advice. I make diet choices for my mother after consulting her doctor based upon her laboratory results. Your physician may recommend a different menu.
(©) Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn