So, on Thursday it was my turn to embrace the purée diet and thickened fluids experience. In all honesty, I had looked on in awe as my SLT colleagues planned and whipped up carefully crafted, culinary delights, whereas I didn’t feel nearly so organised. Nevertheless, between stealing some items from my toddler’s food supplies, endeavouring to locate anything ready-made/shop-bought and firing up my nutribullet, I did it!
To begin, it was ready brek for breakfast. Not to be outdone by my colleague’s supreme efforts, I thought I’d best blend up a bit of banana and raspberry to add some aesthetic flair… and taste. (It obviously worked well as my toddler felt inclined to steal a good portion!)
For lunch, I plumped for a shop bought soup and yoghurt, which was as convenient as I could manage under the restrictions. I felt full, and it had been an easy, ordinary lunch (although I missed bread!). I did find myself ‘stocking up’ a little as I worried I wouldn’t be full.
Dinner was my most interesting and perhaps most realistic experience of being on a purée diet. Whilst my parents (who were visiting) and husband tucked into a colourful, chunky ratatouille with a side of cheesy bread, my version looked a little less attractive (although a colleague pointed out from my photo that it looks like it has a face – perhaps that adds a level of interest?!) and I finished much sooner than everyone else. That said, it was tasty, nutritious and I felt full. My family, however, were concerned I hadn’t eaten enough and looked on in sympathy at my meal. I expect this is a very typical reaction; it doesn’t seem natural to blend your food. I had to remind them, and perhaps myself, that it was exactly what they were having. Compared to sharing the experience in the day with colleagues, dinner felt more challenging in both a sense of ‘missing out’ and self-restraint, I mean who would’ve known if I’d reached for a slice of bread? I didn’t by the way! At this point, I couldn’t help but think of our patients as they attempt to navigate the world of modified diet alone.
I concluded with a delicious blended apple crumble and custard – this was probably my favourite dish of the day, which won’t come as much of a shock to my colleagues who know I have a sweet tooth.
In the meantime, I started the day with thickened orange juice, I also tried coffee, cooled boiled water and squash. Whilst it wasn’t unpalatable, I found I had to sip fluids more regularly through the day as it wasn’t as easy to take on larger quantities at once. It was different, but I feel that if my alternative was repeated hospital admissions with pneumonia, as is the case with many of our patients, I feel I’d be on board.
So having completed the challenge, here are a couple of my key reflections:
– I still found my food tasty and filling, although I missed the satisfaction derived from chewing and negotiating the texture of my food
– Both thickening fluids and pureeing food takes away the convenience
– Whilst I still enjoyed food when puréed, it takes creativity and most importantly, time to make this work well – both of which I can sometimes struggle to find!
– finally, as a self-professed sweet lover, I did find there was an over abundance of sweet food in my day, as these were easier to buy ‘ready made’ than savoury items.
What a great experience this has been! I have a greater empathy for our patients’ experiences and a real (albeit short) experience to hinge my advice and ongoing practice on. It has also been a great talking point amongst the team and brought out some interesting reflections, as well as some healthy competition and camaraderie. I’d highly recommend other SLTs to give it a go!