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FOOD & DRINK


Food for Thought


We catch up with Philip Mayling, Director of MKG Foods, to find out why food is such an important factor in the treatment and care of dementia patients.


WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FOOD, COMFORT AND


NOSTALGIA? Most of us associate certain foods with specific memories from our childhoods, for example sponge and pink custard served up at school or our mother’s Sunday dinner.


Whatever their significance, food- based memories are oſten vivid and


can evoke more emotions than other types of memories.


Food and nostalgia have an intrinsic link, and scientific research shows there is a unique association between our memories and the food we eat. When we eat at specific events or occasions, we can create strong connections between that food and our good feelings.


Research has proven that comfort food in particular can reduce our sense of loneliness and feelings of isolation. The effects of eating comfort food are even more astounding when you consider those with dementia; research in a 2018 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found nostalgia helps enhance psychological resources, for example social connectedness, optimism, self-esteem and positive mood.


Where dementia patients are concerned, the ability to reminisce with the help of certain foods is extremely powerful. Nostalgia is a psychological resource to help with the management of dementia, as memories of a happier, less confusing time can offer significant comfort to those living in a world full of confusion and conflict.


HOW DOES FOOD UNLOCK MEMORY? Psychologist and neuroscientist Hadley Bergstom believes taste memories are the strongest associative memories that you can make.


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Recognising the positive connection between food, nostalgia, memory and the wellbeing of residents with dementia, care homes across the UK have begun taking part in something called ‘reminiscence therapy’, which is the process of recollecting past experiences or events. It can help provide older people with a sense of fulfilment and comfort as they look back on their lives. It is a particularly effective therapy for people with dementia, improving their cognition, mood and behaviour, while relieving agitation.


WHAT ROLE CAN FOODSERVICE SUPPLIERS PLAY IN HELPING INCREASE THE WELLBEING OF CARE HOME RESIDENTS SUFFERING


WITH DEMENTIA? Foodservice suppliers catering for the care industry have a significant role to play. Many residents look forward to the social atmosphere and increased communication that occurs during and around meals. To enhance this, foodservice suppliers can provide specific foods to broaden care homes’ product offerings, such as food moulds which ensure residents are presented foods that closely resemble what they have come to love and enjoy throughout their lives.


For example, we oſten assemble pureed roast dinners which are moulded into the shape of roast potatoes, carrots and meat, to help remind residents of familiar food and meals. We also provide tailored meals for ‘theme days’ such as birthdays, royal weddings and Remembrance Day, all of which further gain clarity with the addition of food.


While food is just one element of our lives that brings us comfort, its power to evoke positive memories and enhance the lives of those who need it most should not be underestimated. As foodservice suppliers it is important that we continue to work with care homes to ensure their menus can benefit the mental wellbeing of residents as much as possible.”


www.mkgfoods.co.uk www.tomorrowscare.co.uk


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