Archive for Eating

Hospice and Reflexive Eating

We talked about “reflexive eating” in a hospice meeting.

It’s when nourishment is automatically eaten.

I immediately thought about my next meal.

It’s when opening the mouth for food or liquid is more from habit than need.

I eat too much.

If food is placed before me, I might take a bite or ten without even being hungry. Could I be a reflexive eater? Could I blame this problem on Mom? As a kid, we not only had three nice meals a day, but after school there was usually a plate of cookies. It was such a Leave It To Beaver stereotype, with me home from a grueling day in fourth grade. There, ready for me, were a cool glass of milk accompanied by freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (with walnuts, of course).

There’s more.

What about declining dessert after dinner, but scheming for—while later watching Bonanza or The Twilight Zone on ye olde TV—a bowl of ice cream? One scoop? Two?

What about my lifelong chips and salsa relationship? Read More →

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5 Questions to Ask a Hospice Patient

On conversations that matter . . .

What can I say?

With some hospice patients, even when they are friends or family members, we’re unsure of how to keep a conversation going. It may be easy to begin a chat about today’s weather or yesterday’s news, but what about having a conversation that matters?

And for other hospice patients, maybe when we’re first-time visitors from their faith community or a new volunteer from hospice, we can also have doubts about what to say after the introductions and mentioning that it’s hot (or breezy, humid, snowy) outside.

Here are a handful of suggestions for deepening a conversation with someone in hospice care.

(And below the suggestions, if you want to skip my optimistic examples, I reflect about a recent “failed” visit with an acquaintance nearing death.)

5 things to say to someone you know and love . . . Read More →

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Food Matters for Hospice Patients

DietDuring patient care meetings, a hospice nurse would report that a patient had started on “a mechanical soft diet.”

What was that?

My serious side guessed something happened to the food for easier swallowing and digesting. But I confess to imagining expensive equipment—with complex moving parts—processing a meal before it arrived on the patient’s plate. Maybe the food was delivered from a secret laboratory to the patient’s home?

Don’t astronauts require special preparation and packaging for dining in space? The U.S. military has the MRE—Meals Ready to Eat—for troops in locations without portable or permanent mess halls. I’ve hiked with freeze-dried food stashed in my pack. Whether orbiting the earth or exploring wilderness, weren’t some “mechanical” steps taken to create those meals?

I asked a nurse.

She explained, “It’s when the food is cut into small, bite-sized pieces.” Read More →

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