Maintaining good nutrition presents extra challenges with people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Malnutrition and weight maintenance can become issues, often with different reasons, including a diminished or increased sense of hunger and thirst, problems with eating or swallowing, problems with using utensils, poor food choices and depression.
One strategy that might assist in curbing obsessions with eating continually and indulging in sweets is to prepare smaller meals or snacks and serve them more frequently. Eating five or six meals a day may be easier than eating the same amount of food in three meals.
Also, try to make easy meals that also are easy to eat, such as fingers foods that benefit the affected person and are easy to prepare. Have your husband eat the more nutritious, higher-calorie foods in the meal first, so he will get full faster. If your husband is a wanderer, or paces all day, his physical activity can stimulate his appetite.
Smell impairment, which usually goes unrecognized in Alzheimer’s patients, interferes with taste and some with the disease eat constantly to try to taste something that appeals to them.
Taste buds diminish with age, so your husband is probably in a quest for flavor, seeking out foods higher in salt and sugar and that's probably why he eats sweet foods. Include protein-rich sweet foods such as pudding, fruit yogurts, frozen yogurt or high-protein gelatin with his meals. You can make smoothies by whipping frozen fruits with milk or yogurt.
Because your husband is so attracted to sweets, try sprinkling sugar or a sugar substitute on the main entrée. It will be what he tastes first, so it might satisfy his craving for the sweet food.
Also try using colored plates, like red or blue, which offer a contrast with foods and might make them look more appealing to him. Color contrasting plates can also assist in stimulating appetite, should his appetite start to wane as the disease progresses.
As alternatives to rich holiday food, have cut up fruits and vegetables on hand and allow him to eat granola bars that have less fat and more fiber. Encourage a diet low in salt and saturated fats and high in calcium. Try not to keep sugary snacks and holiday candy visible around the house as this serves as a constant temptation. Above all, make sure he drinks plenty of liquids. A good rule of thumb is to give him some water every two hours. Consuming water frequently might help curb his appetite.
Remembers mealtimes are a way of being connected. It takes a lot of patience, but sit and eat a meal together and engage in thoughtful conversation. This might distract him and slow down his insatiability for food. If he tends to always eat by himself, be cautioned that social isolation could eventually lead to loss of appetite, weight loss and a disinterest in eating.