How to Adapt to Changing Nutritional Needs

| By Jodi Horton

Over the course of your illness, it is natural that your appetite will decline. This can be very difficult for you and your loved ones, as the preparation and sharing of meals are deeply symbolic ways in which we love and nurture one another and celebrate life together. At Casa, we believe it is important that loved ones and caregivers follow your lead regarding your diet. When you do have an appetite, you may enjoy favorite and/or easily digestible foods. At these times it may be helpful if caregivers: Yogurt and berries

  • Prepare and serve the foods you request, as possible.
  • Schedule pain medications so that you are comfortable at mealtimes.
  • Keep your mouth fresh and clean.
  • Create a pleasant eating environment, sharing meals with you if you wish.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity. Just a “taste” of a favorite food may satisfy.
  • Be willing to offer foods more frequently and in smaller portions, as large portions may overwhelm and decrease the appetite.
  • Experiment with soft and pleasing foods such as milkshakes, yogurt, puddings, ice cream, sorbet, and soft fruits and vegetables.
  • Consider offering fortified milkshakes and drinks such as Boost and Ensure.
  • As alcohol can stimulate the appetite, if you enjoy alcohol before or after mealtimes, check with your nurse to see if it is compatible with your medications.

If you need assistance eating and drinking, the following can be helpful:

  • Being firmly supported in the chair or bed
  • Using a bedside table or a bed tray
  • Using cups for soups or straws for drinking ease
  • Using a stretch coaster and built-up utensils, if your grip is weak
  • Receiving gentle support to eat and drink
  • Having caregivers describe foods and whether they are hot or cold
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