When your patient is too tired to cook
Monday, August 12, 2013
by: Nancy Collins, PhD, RD, LD/N, FAPWCA

Section: Corporate Partners

Sponsored by

Abbott Nutrition

Abbott Nutrition, makers of Ensure® and Glucerna®, is a worldwide leader in providing innovative nutritional products that help improve the quality of life and outcomes for patients. By forming powerful partnerships with home care agencies through its Feed the 485 program, the company is tackling a new goal: helping to reduce rehospitalizations with this important nutrition therapy initiative.

When your patient is sick or dealing with a chronic illness, he/she often feels weak and tired and may not have the strength necessary to shop and prepare meals. It is important to emphasize proper meal intake because calories, protein and fluids are critical to healing and regaining independence. It is important that the patient consume nutrient-dense foods, and eat and drink as healthfully as possible every day during his/her recovery. 
Consider sharing these helpful tips with your patients:
  1. Fill the pantry with foods that require only heating in a microwave.
  2. Use home-delivery shopping or online purchasing, if that option is available.
  3. Prepare extra foods when he/she has the most energy—if the patient expects that a certain time of day or a certain medication will affect his or her sleep or energy, plan to prepare meals when feeling best.
  4. Store the food made ahead of time in single-serving portions, which will allow the patient to reheat just the amount that will be eaten
  5. Choose oral nutrition supplements (ONS), such as Ensure® or Glucerna® if these are easier to tolerate or prepare than other foods. Use these to fill in the gaps when meal intake is less than optimal.
  6. Ask for help from a support system—friends or family are often willing to help cook and prepare food.
  7. Get takeout from local restaurants that deliver, and consider ordering extra to store as single-serving portions to eat later.
  8. Speak with a registered dietitian and/or physician about taking a multivitamin.
  9. Drink water or other non-caffeinated beverages. A good reminder is to take a drink during every commercial break while watching television or filling a pitcher in the morning with the goal of consuming the entire contents by evening.  
  10. Stock the refrigerator and freezer with ready-to-eat foods that require minimal preparation, cooking, or assembly.

Choose meals such as the following options:

Frozen meals:
–  Frozen dinners (healthful options are available; looks for low sodium)
–  Pizza
–  Quiche
–  Baked fish
–  Chicken fingers

Packaged meals (look for low sodium meals):
–  Macaroni and cheese
–  Ready-to-eat soups
–  Rice and noodle dishes that require only the addition of hot water
–  Ready-made lunches from the deli counter

Canned foods:
–  Beef stew
–  Chili
–  Spaghetti
–  Soups
–  Fruits (supplement with fresh when able)
–  Vegetables (supplement with fresh when able)
–  Beans
–  Tuna fish
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