Colored Plates: What do Fiestaware and Dementia Have in Common?

Got Fiestaware?  My mom does…she has a whole set of plates and bowls in lots of vibrant, beautiful colors.  Having a meal on a colored plate just seems to make mealtime more fun!

I recently read a great post from The Alzheimer’s Reading Room discussing the use of colored plates in Alzheimer’s patients.  (FYI: The Alzheimer’s Reading Room is a great resource for those with or caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s.  They have great resources and an active community for you to connect with.  I highly recommend them!!)

The post mentions that colored plates help Alzheimer’s patients see their food more clearly, which as you can imagine, seems to help with intake.   This isn’t a new phenomenom but one we’ve been using in the practice of dietetics for some time.  Colored plates help those with visual impairment see contrast and therefore enhance intake.  Our brains also seem to pick up on the colors and may influence us to eat differently.  In particularly, red plates do seem to increase intake.

So to answer the original question…what do Fiestaware and dementia have in common?  That colorful Fiestaware (or a colored disposable plate) could be an easy trick to helping your loved one with or without dementia eat more!

Have a great weekend!  Sunday is Grandparent’s Day…be sure to honor and/or remember your grandparents!!



1.  The Alzheimer’s Reading Room:

2.  Photo:  Kenan Crawford Hill

Creative ways to swallow crushed medications

If you are helping someone with medication management you may have encountered the need to “hide” their crushed pills in food.  Of course, we aren’t doing this to be deceitful but to help “the medicine go down”…as Mary Poppins would say.  Our goal is to use the food as the delivery method for the crushed medications.

It sounds easy until the person tires of the food or “discovers” the food is the delivery method for medications.  This may sound familiar to those of you who care for adults with dementia.

Here are some of my ideas on foods that can be used to deliver crushed meds:

-Yogurt (get the full-fat, whole milk kind: it works much better)
-pureed fruit (any kind…bananas, apricots, strawberries, mixtures)  We use the Gerber pureed fruits a lot (they are real tasty!!).
-Pimento cheese (delicious on a cracker)
-Any kind of salad (egg, tuna, etc.)
-Ice cream (just scooped)
-Grits (or Farina)
-Cheese dip (like pub cheese)
-Any kind of little debbie cake (I know, not what you thought you’d hear the dietitian say…but you can cut a swiss roll (or oatmeal cream pie, etc.) in half, put the meds in the cream and then put back together and serve with a fork). They are soft, easy to chew and have tons of flavor.
-Pudding or Mousse
-Avocados or mild guacamole
-Cottage cheese
-Cream cheese
Of course we aren’t talking a lot of volume for any of these…Enjoy!
Image Location:  nutella-spoon-2.jpg

Don’t feel “TRAPed” with Parkinson’s

topnews.usThis past weekend I visited with a friend who has Parkinson’s disease (PD).  We were talking about some of the taste changes she was experiencing.  I was so inspired by her willingness to try new foods and food pairings in order to continue to enjoy food and mealtime.  If you would like to learn more about flavor, check out one of my past posts here.  Our conversation, also reminded me that I should share more about the relationship of food to some of the common PD meds and share a great video about PD and exercise.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the loss of brain cells that control movement. Clinical features of PD are often given the acronym TRAP (tremors, rigidity, akinesia or loss of motor function, and postural instability). Unfortunately, PD gets worse with age. Not only does Parkinson’s affect our coordination during daily activities like meals, but it can also result in a loss of taste & smell as well as swallowing difficulties. 1,2 But don’t feel trapped!  Here are some helpful tips to manage Parkinson’s:

* Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet, high in fiber and fluids to prevent constipation and lots of calcium, which helps transmit nerve impulses in the brain. Examples of foods high in fiber would be: bran, whole wheat, or whole grain items, dried fruit, fruit with peels, broccoli, beans, etc. Foods with a lot of calcium include: cheese, tofu, almonds, green leafy vegetables, yogurt, milk, and other dairy

* If you are taking L-dopa, do not take your multivitamin or consume fava beans, aspartame (artificial sweetener in soft drinks, some chewing gums, or non-fat diet foods) or a lot of protein with L-dopa, as these can negatively interfere with L-dopa’s targeted effects. Instead, make your evening meals higher in protein than your morning meals.

* Liquid supplementation of CoQ10 may slow the progression of Parkinson’s. 60-1200 milligrams (mg)/day in divided doses is recommended. CoQ10 is best absorbed when taken with a meal that contains fat and perhaps during the evening hours. Make sure though to talk to your physician before taking these supplements, especially if you are on Warfarin, blood pressure medications, or thyroid or antiviral drugs. 3

* Avoid supplements containing greater than 100% of the daily value for pyridoxine, iron, and/or magnesium. 4

Check out this neatly organized handout for further information on managing Parkinson’s and some helpful nutrition tips:

Medication Tips for PD Patients

Also, check out this video on how exercise can help with Parkinson’s:

A special thanks goes to my co-author, Lauren Elder.