You Have to Eat Something!

Eating was one of Rodger’s few pleasures in life. Severe Dysphagia robbed him of the ability to enjoy his favorite things like pita bread and big juicy oranges but mealtime was still very important. He watched the clock and started asking for his tray at least fifteen minutes before he really wanted it. Schedules were to be kept to the minute or his stress levels would rise. Over time he ate less and less and began losing weight. Then the day came when he pushed the plate away and refused to take in a single bite. I took it away thinking he would eat it later. He didn’t. He seemed to lose interest altogether.

He had to be hungry. Didn’t his body insist on sustenance? What was going on? When I was able to cajole him into taking a few bites it felt like a victory for me. By his response I knew he felt just the opposite. This woman is forcing me to do this and I don’t like it.

Almost every day caregivers are saying the same thing. “My loved one won’t eat. What can I do?”

I tried everything I could think of to get more nutrition into him. I wish I had known about how the color of the plate I was putting the food on could have made a difference.

Recently I came upon the following quote and it made me stop and think.

“If you couldn’t see mashed potatoes would you eat them?

red plate

There are many posts and articles online that suggest that red plates are they way to go. Other colors have been suggested as well, including blue and yellow. I had to wonder if one color was better than another, and if so, why?

Then I ran across a post on Home Sweet Home Care, Inc. that strongly suggests that color, contrast, and plate size can make a difference. It states in part:

 “We Are Influenced by More than Plate Color

“So the full story, according to this newer study, is that how much one consumes is highly influenced not only by plate color, but also by plate size and even the background (tablecloth) the plate is placed upon. Thus the solution suggesting that you use red plates for dementia patients is only accurate if you are serving light colored foods, such as mashed potatoes. Whereas fresh tomatoes, strawberries, and tomato soup, which are themselves bright red would be better served on white or bright non-red plates. Serving these foods on red plates would not increase food consumption because there would be insufficient contrast between the food and the serving dish.

Now keep in mind that this technique of serving food that is in high contrast with the plate it is being served upon (or cup/liquid) is a method that helps those who are having difficulty seeing. Clarity of vision often plagues the elderly and those with Alzheimer’s. So increasing the contrast between food and the item it is being served with will assist them in both seeing and consuming the food or liquid. As the original article touting red plates for dementia as a solution stated, “if you couldn’t see your mashed potatoes, would you eat them?” So Sometimes choosing a red plate for dementia patients is the right choice.”

I thank the author for posting this advice and hope that it helps make life a little bit easier for you and your loved ones.

To read the full article go to:


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NaBloPoMo November 2014






2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kerry Hanslits
    Mar 31, 2015 @ 09:59:18

    Thank you for the work you do here, and thank you for making more people aware of the “full details” about red plates. I know the article about it is extensive but it is a complicated subject that you summed up very well in your post.



    • Bobbi Carducci
      Mar 31, 2015 @ 10:15:35

      Thank you for your comment. Having a loved one with a problem eating is so stressful for them and for us. If this post helps even one person it’s worth it.
      I look forward to hearing from you again sometime.



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