Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eat, drink and be wary.

Watch your back, folks: Sheriff Sodium is on the prowl!
We all gotta eat, but when part of staying alive and well means crucial dietary restrictions someone has to be in charge.
Nana's used to staying away from certain foods. Once you've had a near death bowel obstruction, and she's had six, you become almost afraid to eat. Can't blame her, really. She stays away from raw fruits and vegetables, particularly the cruciferous kind that can cause excess gas, bloating or in Nana's case possibly fatal flatulence.
To Nana there is no such thing as 'al dente'. She prefers her food overcooked, relatively bland and not too much at a time. This meant that any meal she cooked was perfectly enjoyable for her. The others at the table would often spend their meal doing their darndest to catch soupy spaghetti with their spoons. It wasn't too long before I'd cook two meals for every breakfast, lunch and dinner, cleverly tabled as one so as not to hurt Nana's feelings.
Now Grampa George is another story. Stage four of congestive heart failure for him means staying as far away from salt as possible. Enlarged and disfunctional, his heart has enough trouble keeping his circulation going. This means that the rest of his organs are barely keeping up with their own jobs. Retaining water is one of the biggest problems. Before he moved in so much water had gathered in his lungs that he could barely breathe and had to sleep sitting upright. Even more water pooled in his feet, the intense swelling finally causing huge blisters to open up that took months to heal.
Nana's pretty good about keeping to her diet and now that she's 'forgetting' more, she's occasionally trying foods she's sworn off for years. Grampa George is having a hard time of it. Now that he's feeling better he's hungry. He's allowed a reasonable amount of food but still gets up from the table unsatisfied. Keeping his meals salt free was impossible. It's easier to limit the salt in his food and limit his portions. There's no reason to torture the man. We all live finite lives and taking away all food enjoyment just isn't right. We try our best to stick to healthier, limited snacks and tasty favorite meals.
What's helped a lot is serving soup for either lunch or dinner on most days. Also, meals are not dished out at the table where everyone can help themselves, but doled out by me, one plate at a time, right from the stove. Second helpings are allowed since first helpings are reasonable in size and give me the advantage of mind over matter. Since carrots and celery sticks don't go well with dentures, I've substituted red, green and yellow peppers with great success and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar to hide the empty spaces on the plate.
Now if only I could keep Grampa George from grabbing a handful of mini dills while gliding past the kitchen counter after dinner to put his empty plate in the sink.

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