The Importance of Soup in an Older Person’s Diet

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Soup has many advantages when served to older people. As we get older, we are less likely to supply our bodies with the quantity of nutrients needed to maintain quality of life. Our appetite changes as we get older; food plays a much smaller roll in our lives. We may have spent the majority of our lives living to eat, but as we get older our priorities and desires change, and the emphasis is one of eating to live. The challenge though is packing all the nutrients their bodies need into a package that can be eaten easily and relatively quickly. Research has shown that after about twenty minutes of eating, our brain tells us that we are full, and appetite diminishes. This is great when we are young, but for older people, the brain tells them they have had sufficient well before they are properly nourished; so whatever we serve an older person, ideally needs to be eaten within this time span. This is the value and importance of soup. So, how do we best prepare this life giving elixir?

You will need a good quality hand blender, or a liquidiser. They come all shapes and sizes, depending on the amount you are preparing. I would always advocate making the soup as you need it, but that may not be available option, so by all means consider making enough to freeze as well. Don’t rely on pre-making soup though.Proper Digestion begins even before any food enters our mouths. The anticipation of food prepares our digestive system for the feast ahead. The smells and sight of food being prepared are as important in the process as actually eating; this is why our mouths water with anticipation. That “water” in our mouths contains enzymes which are essential to the correct digestion of our food. If you are preparing soup for an older person who lives in their own home, consider cooking the ingredients before visiting them, and then making the soup in their own kitchen. This way, they get the advantage of the anticipation and stimulus even before the soup is served.

The base of our soup should be the main ingredient, and the name by which our soup is called. For instance a base of vegetables would produce a vegetable soup, including all its variants. This may sound rather obvious, but there is a danger when making soup, of piling in unrelated food, which will ultimately produce a bowl of confusion, something even the youngest diner would have a problem with; there needs to be order and a theme running through the soup, otherwise meal times will be very same and boring. here are a few tricks and tips to bare in mind.

  • When vegetables are blended, they do tend to make quite a thick soup. However there is a danger of the fibre and the liquid separating. By adding oatmeal, the soup remains creamy, and has the added advantage of including useful soluble fibre
  • There are many ways of making vegetable soup more varied. Try adding grated cheese, or may be cream. This would make the soup a good source of calcium and protein as well as fibre and vitamins.
  • Beer Cheese soup is a brilliant and very different variant. I’m not sure what it’s called in your country, but here in the UK, the best beer to use is Stout. It is loaded with B vitamins and essential minerals. It’s easy as well. Simply boil e beer to remove the alcahol, let it cool to hand hot, and then add some processed cheese. know that in America this cheese is called “Cheese Whizz”. In the UK a similar cheese would be Dairylea or Primular. Just stir it into the beer, season and then serve. Another excellent source of protein and calcium
  • I don’t like using meat in a blended, liquidised soup. The texture is just not right, I don’t think. If you want a meat based soup, I would recommend using stock as your base, an ten adding other things like tomatoes or mushrooms, or even potatoes, to give the soup body and form.
  • Another great soup, especially if the older person has bowel problems, is Thick Pea Soup. Cook a bag of frozen peas until very tender. Liquidise with vegetable stock and seasoning, to the required consistency. An excellent source of fibre!

There are countless different and interesting things you can do with a humble bowl of soup. Try experimenting with different ingredients and different combinations. It’s great fun; and excellent nutrition for those you care for.

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