Archive for Food

The Hospice Doctor Didn’t Mean Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

Food is not a humorous subject with hospice patients and their families . . .

When the hospice medical director reminded the patient’s nurse to get a mac, my stomach grumbled.

The nurse nodded. There seemed to be an immediate, unspoken agreement.

A mac? What did the doctor mean? They couldn’t mean a Macintosh computer from Apple, could they? That didn’t make sense. But thoughts of digital apples made me think about real food: had they meant Mac & Cheese? While I’m not a fan of the packaged pasta and cheese, it is one of my wife’s favorite comfort foods.

My food wondering continued. What about a Big Mac? Could the doctor have been recommending a fast food burger? (When younger, I loved McDonald’s flagship burger. The Big Mac debuted, with fanfare and a high calorie count, around the time I started college. If I could scrounge a few extra quarters, I’d always go for the extra all-beef patty and special sauce!)

But we hospice professionals couldn’t have been talking meal deals . . . right? Read More →

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When Food is Not the Answer

Please sir, more

“Please, sir,” replied Oliver, “I want some more.”

How often have you asked a variation of these:

  • Want to get some coffee?
  • What are you taking to the potluck?
  • Do you have time for lunch next week?
  • Can we get together for dinner and talk about it?
  • How about kicking back and ordering pizza tonight?
  • When are we going to that new restaurant?

We are a food-friendly people. And rightly so!

Whether it’s a romantic restaurant meal that became a turning point in your relationship or the thin gruel fed to Charles Dickens’ fictional orphans, food nourishes us. We have favorite food linked to memories, like my pal Juanita’s Sock-It-To-Me cake from long-ago birthdays. Please give me a good movie, a comfy couch, and then add the chips and salsa with cheddar cheese melted on top. Years later, friends can recall meals at great restaurants. We have stories about cheap meals on a date with the person we married. We munch on popcorn or peanuts and can’t stop grabbing one more handful. We have that comfort food Mom made—for me it was potato salad, ranger cookies, or fried chicken—that no one else in the world can duplicate. We swap family recipes, sneak junk food, taste the sample “snacks” at Costco, and on rare, fun occasions eat breakfast for dinner because, well, just because!

In hospice, one of the toughest times for an individual or a family caring for a loved one is when that person no longer wants to eat. 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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