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The EAT Bar | The Importance of a Dining Companion

Have you noticed that as you are waiting to be served in a restaurant, the food at other dining tables appears very appealing? Then, as people begin to eat, your appetite increases!

Research has shown that people who eat alone eat less than when they eat with others. If you want to help increase the food intake of someone you care for, try to provide a dining companion.

Sit across from each other, rather than beside.

The patient has an improved view as you load your utensil, chew, and take a drink.  It often promotes imitation.

If you cannot be there in person, make an audio recording of your voice to use during meals.

With one of my patients with increasing dementia, I asked the patient’s daughter, who lived out-of-state, to make an audio recording to facilitate her Dad’s eating. I asked the patient if he would like to hear from Becky, using a head-set. 

Becky said, “Hi Daddy, this is Becky.  I am going to eat my dinner while you eat yours.  I’m going to “wet my whistle” and take a drink. Dad, will you take a drink too?" 

Becky went on to talk about being hungry and asked Dad to look at his plate and choose what to eat first.  Then she said, “I’m going to do this too.” She continued giving encouragement with generous pauses for taking bites.

After about 10-days, this gentleman who was refusing his meals, began gesturing for the head-set at meal time. I asked Becky to change the generic script about every two weeks.  She was very happy that she helped her Dad’s calorie intake average 400 calories a meal when she talked to him. You may ask your speech pathologist for suggestions for a script to use with your family member.

When visiting a loved one in a facility share in a snack together.

When the patient or resident has a visitor, ask the visitor to open an EAT Bar and begin to eat it.  After several bites, without verbal encouragement, hand a bar to the patient.  Their visitor can reminisce about sharing treats. For example, “Remember when Almond Joy came with two pieces in a package…always enough to share?”  Or offer a toast, like one does when clicking glasses, by clicking the EAT Bars (TheEATBar.com). 

Food tastes better when shared.

~Paulette Wood MS ccc-slp & EAT Bar collaborator

Paulette Wood, is an EAT Bar product collaborator and highly-respected Speech Language Pathologist. She has an extensive history of developing innovative programs in dysphagia, including the first multi-disciplinary dysphagia treatment team in Iowa. Paulette has presented numerous seminars, key note speeches, and formal addresses for various service organizations, professional bodies, and community groups.  She edited Dysphagia Management Program, a multi-disciplinary application and wrote a monthly column for the Stroke Club Newsletter. In addition, she was a commissioned writer for Menu Magic Foods and Mead Johnson.  Her publications include: co-authoring Dining Skills: Practical Interventions for the Caregivers of the Eating Disabled Older Adults, published by Consulting Dieticians in Health Care Facilities, a practice group of the American Dietetics Association, and Funded by the Retirement Research Foundation