We are bombarded with messages about food and nutrient on a daily basis in the newspapers, on television and on social media. Often it is difficult to know what to believe. So this year during Dietitians week (12-16th June) we are look at how dietitians can help you tell the facts from the fiction.
FACT – no two people are alike! It is true that every one of us eats and drinks on a daily basis. However we don’t eat or drink the same things. Whether you need advice from a dietitian to help you stay well nourished and hydrated will depend on how your dementia is affecting your abilities and if you have any other health conditions.
Often when people hear that someone has Dementia the reaction is to think about what the person can’t do. But everyone has their own experiences, skills and knowledge, so that is simply not true. Instead we should focus on what you CAN do. Dietitians provide information and advice on a wide variety of nutrition topics to help you find the right information to support you. The British Dietetic Website has a range of factsheets you can access at https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/home
Let’s bust a few more myths!
1. If you have dementia you should not cook? FICTION
FACT Try using a step by step cooking guide – this can be as detailed as you need such as how to use a peeler, opening or boil vegetables. Laminating these preparation techniques can be useful to maintain independence. Pictures can also be useful if you find too many words distracting.
FACT Cook together – It can be more fun! Ask friends or family to cook with you. If you forget a step your cooking partner can remind you on what needs to be done.
FACT Bulk cook and freeze – extra portions of meals can be put away on days when you feel able to cook if you have days where you are not able to cook. Using clear bags or boxes can make foods easier to see in the freezer. Label them with what they are and the date they were put away.
FACT Use familiar utensils and equipment – new kitchen items can be more difficult to use. If using the oven or hob becomes challenging, you could try using a microwave or table top grill.
2. If you have dementia you can’t have a healthy balanced diet? FICTION
FACT Dietitians recommend you should try to eat a balanced diet. By this we mean eating in a way that allows you to have all the right nutrients in the right amounts to keep you well. You will have probably have seen the Eatwell Guide that gives information on the amount of each food you should try to eat. However sometimes dementia can affect the way you taste food.
FACT Your likes and dislikes may change. It may be that stronger foods or sweet foods become more appealing. You may find that you enjoy foods you previously wouldn’t have enjoyed.
FACT Be adventurous – try new foods and drinks from time to time.
FACT Sweet foods can still be healthy. Let’s look at rice pudding for example. It does contain calories or energy but it also contains a good source of protein and calcium. Pairing this with some tinned, fresh or frozen fruit will help to provide vitamins and fibre. Resulting in a balanced meal!
3. Taking a nutritional supplement can help your dementia? FICTION
FACT A range of nutritional supplements such as ginkgo biloba, B vitamins and vitamin E have been linked with improvements for someone with dementia. Unfortunately there is limited or no evidence to support that they are beneficial, although research is ongoing.
FACT Eat a wide range of foods. This is the best way to get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. However if you miss out a group of foods such as fruit and vegetables, you may benefit from a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.
4. Losing weight and eating less is part of the aging process? FICTION
FACT It is not true that losing weight is a natural part of the aging process.
When someone loses weight unintentionally or loses weight quickly they should visit there GP. A referral can be made to the Dietitian for further assessment and advice if needed.
With Dietitians you CAN….
- Be assessed, diagnosed and receive personalised treatment for nutrition and dietary problems.
- Understand how to turn scientific evidence can be turned into practical changes in what you eat and drink.
- Make dietary changes to help treat a range of physical health conditions.
Ask a Dietitian …….
Thank you for reading my blog during #DAW2017
I welcome any comments on the facts and fiction ideas I have shared with you today
Specialist Dietitian – Mental Health, NHS Lanarkshire
This blog was first published on ‘Let’s Talk About Dementia’ Click on logo below to visit the site.