For the elderly, liquid diets – which consist of pureed and blended foods as well as soups – are easy to swallow and digest, especially when they lose their teeth and their grip on eating utensils become weaker.
Meal replacements often find their way into the liquid diet. These are usually powders or beverages, formulated with a designated amount of calories and nutrients to replace a meal while still meeting the person’s daily energy and nutritional requirements.
Good for diabetes
For the elderly with diabetes, meal replacements may play an important role in the management of this condition. In fact, the American Diabetes Association issued a positive statement in 2007, stating that:
Meal replacements (liquid or solid prepackaged) provide a defined amount of energy, often as a formula product. Use of meal replacements once or twice daily to replace a usual meal can result in significant weight loss.
“But ... puree again? Ugh!”
However, it can be dull and even demoralising to eat the same pureed or soupy dishes every day. Eating becomes a chore when one stops looking forward to the next meal!
Fortunately, things can be improved. Here are some tips to liven up the liquid diet of your loved one.
- Serve a fruit yoghurt for breakfast. There are many different types of fruits available, so there is no shortage of different tastes and flavours to liven up the breakfast table. Just blend fruits with plain yoghurt, and add in some thin oatmeal for fibre.
- Smoothies are great for lunch. Just blend fresh or frozen vegetables (carrots and cucumbers, for example) with ice, adding some yoghurt or pureed banana for thickening. Combine different types of fruits and vegetables for different flavours each time.
- No chew recipes are the way to go. Who says purees and soups have to be tasteless? With a blender, you can blend different types of meat and vegetables with spices to create tasty ‘no chew’ meals. If you need recipes, search for ‘no chew recipes’ online. You’d be surprised by just how many different types of recipes available out there – for free!
- What’s for dessert? Your loved one’s meal replacements can be used to create some fine shakes for desserts. Blend in some fruits or add some instant coffee grounds for that extra ‘kick’.
If your loved one has a sweet tooth, but you are worried about the extra calories that come with sugar (especially if he or she has diabetes), you can use sugar substitutes such as artificial sweeteners for the occasional special treat.
American Diabetes Association Diabetes Care. Available at care.diabetesjournals.org.
Caregiver.com. Available at www.caregiver.com.