For most of our lives, eating brings us great pleasure. We have our favourite dishes, our staples, our nutritional considerations, our comfort foods and our treats. This love affair with food tends to be a world-wide phenomenon, and everywhere you go, people enjoy a multitude of rituals involving the planning, preparing and eating of food.
However, as people get older, eating and food sometimes lose their appeal. This can happen for a variety of different reasons. It may be that they don’t feel hungry or that loss of appetite is a side effect of a medication they are on. They may feel depressed and generally disinterested in most things in life – eating included. They may find it challenging to prepare meals and dislike what others prepare for them. Or perhaps they are having difficulty chewing or are experiencing discomfort or indigestion when they eat.
Whatever the situation, we can’t stop eating, and where possible – food should be a delight! If your loved one has lost their passion for food, it is important to explore the reasons and if possible, try and make adjustments that will help restore their appetite and joy of eating.
If all that seems to be missing is a good strong appetite and the energy required to muster up enjoyment, here are some suggestions for reigniting their passion for eating:
- Ask them what they like, what they love, and/or what they feel like eating. Of course it’s important to observe any dietary restrictions associated with their health, but at least once a week – they deserve an ‘anything you feel like’ meal!
- Take them to the market – a pleasant shopping environment where they can help select the ingredients. Make this an even better outing by picking up a coffee along the way and parking at a children’s park or a dog park while you drink it!
- Prepare old favourites – those dishes that remind them of the best times in life.
- Involve them in the preparation, or if they can’t participate directly; at least solicit their thoughts on how to prepare their favourite items, and discuss the savoury details as you cook.
- Make it a special occasion – put on some old favourite songs, ask them to talk about a happy time in their life, or tell the stories you know they like to hear.
- Create new rituals – serve food with another favourite activity, like watching a good movie, playing a favourite card game, or eating picnic-style on an outside bench.
Food is not the most important thing in life, but it’s a big part of living… and for as long as possible, we should enjoy it! And most definitely… have dessert!