Are you having a hard time getting your older loved one to eat? You’re certainly not alone, not even if you’re a gourmet cook. As we get older our taste buds actually wear out and don’t work as well. Most food just doesn’t taste as good. Older bodies usually need less food so serving just three good sized meals to a senior often leaves them overwhelmed. Even eating too much food in one sitting can tax their system. So if you want to get them nourished while enjoying what they eat, feed them by littles!
My own parents are in their 80s but once upon a time they ate three pretty good-sized meals a day. Things have changed. As they got older, their meals became smaller and more frequent. Daddy lost a lot of weight after a surgery and mama tried everything to fatten him up. He once weighed 165 pounds but after surgery he came down to 135! It was vital that he put on some weight and gain strength in the process. So mama began fixing him little snacks and light meals. It worked!
Adding Flavor – Adding the Rich Stuff
My parents really never had to watch their weight but mama always cooked healthy. She watched how much fat she used and would rarely have cream or half and half in the house. Now her fridge is stocked with butter and cream that she uses for their meals. Her aim was to make daddy’s small meals as nourishing as possible. She uses cream in scrambled eggs and in gravy. She fries daddy’s toast in a skillet with some butter. She also keeps ice cream for daddy and when he hasn’t eaten very much she offers him a milkshake. Now milkshakes are hard for anyone to pass up.
Now remember, these meals are quite small so packing them with calories is the only way to keep daddy healthy. She still goes light on the salt and serves fresh fruit and veggies at every meal. If she only serves a small amount, daddy will eat them.
Since daddy’s surgery he has to have lots of fluids to keep his kidneys working well so mama always has iced tea in the fridge and daddy has coffee quite often throughout the day. With his tea or coffee, she puts a cookie or two on a plate. Or she might slice up some peaches with a sprinkling of sugar and a small amount of cream. The servings are always small but it keeps daddy’s system going.
Mama’s go-to snacks are usually fruit or a spoon of peanut butter. At 80, she can still work circles around me, so whatever she’s doing — it’s working!
My parents always keep soup in the house. It’s easy to fix — the only thing daddy can “cook.” If he’s feeling a little hungry he’ll go in and warm up a small bowl and eat it with a few crackers. It “tides” him over until the next meal and also gives him much needed fluids. His favorites are bean with bacon, cream of tomato, and potato soup.
At least a few times a week, mama sends daddy out for take-out food. You might say they both are a very “cheap date.” They love chicken from the colonel (you know the one I mean) and can both be filled by splitting one of his daily specials. Sometimes they’ll split an Asian plate from the local grocery store or a plate of Mexican food. They also love fish from the captain and again they just order one meal to split. They say they get plenty to eat and mama says it’s cheaper than cooking from scratch!
Keeping things Easy and Simple
When you find out the mini-meals that work for your senior, try to make it easy on yourself. Keep fruit in a bowl on the table. Stock the fridge with serving sized yogurts, jello and puddings. Slice up a little lunch meat and cheese. Put small amounts in sandwich bags and keep them on the top shelf where your senior can grab them easily.
Mama serves daddy’s meals on small plates and always has a couple of things for him to drink along with his meal. Juice is packed with needed vitamins and calories. She always serves him whole milk with breakfast and often with his snacks. But even the glasses she serves his fluids in are small so he will drink them all.