I had an underlying feeling of excitement today as i knew that within 24 hours i would be tucking into an array of multi-textured food at my friend’s wedding tomorrow. I don’t think that i’ve ever described food solely by its texture before but since being restricted to pureed consistencies, that’s all i can think about! I also feel a pang of guilt in expressing this thought. The idea of not having a clear end point would make this diet so much harder to live on. I’ve decided to summarise all my experiences and thoughts this week into 5 “digestible” points (sorry, my mind is possessed by food puns right now).
1) This is a “slow food” diet:
If you want to eat nutritious and balanced pureed meals then you’ll need to prepare these at home, in advance. Taking your chances in a supermarket chain will inevitably leave you with the uninspiring options of thin soup or baby food.
2) Even Jamie Oliver can’t help you:
Sadly there’s a dearth of recipes on the internet for good pureed food. Mostly it’s the manufacturers of thickeners that have posted recipes and these are on the whole pretty dull sounding, even before you add their key ingredient (obviously their specific thickener brand). The best website i found was this: http://pureeddietoptions.wordpress.com/page/4/. When i adapted normal recipes, i was most successful with meals that were meant to be smoothish in consistency eg. shepherds pie, soup, smoothie, weetabix (my Thai curry was a fail). During this challenge i discovered my new favourite superfood ingredient- Chia seeds. These are tastless miniscule seeds (like poppy seeds) that are packed full of goodness eg. Omega 3, fibre, protein etc. Available online or at health food shops.
3) Eating out brings new challenges:
My experience of dining at a small independent French bistro was fairly positive as the staff were helpful and accomodating. However, my own internal reaction (feeling like a difficult customer etc) made me realise that the experience involves more than having to order off a limited menu.
4) Funny Tummies and Fuzzy Heads:
I’m not sure if my sloshing, churning stomach was just a temporary reaction to the pureed food i was imbibing or a long term side effect, thankfully i won’t have to test this theory. All in all it was not pleasant and at times i felt pretty nausous after my meals. This may also have been a result of the speedy rate in which i ate my meals. When you remove the element of chewing and savouring a meal it inevitable gets gobbled up at a presumably unhealthy rate. My fuzzy head refers to the fact that i found it far harder to concentrate during lectures and i regularly found myself losing my train of thought during a conversation. I’m a healthy young person and this diet took its toll. These side effects must seriously compound the experiences of those who are already ill such as stroke and head injury patients.
5) Food IS good for the soul:
As i admitted at the start of this challenge, i’m highly motivated by food. It’s therefore unsurprising that there were moments where i was hardly a joy to be around on this diet. I also found it difficult to be around others consuming my favourite crunchy foods and therefore opted out of some social situations eg. bbqs. However, when i did find a tasty meal it gave me the same sense of pleasure eg. the onion soup in the restaurant and the homemade shepherd’s pie, so i did have a few pleasant experiences on this diet. This brings me back to the point that food can have an incredibly powerful impact upon people’s quality of life. It’s thus key that institutions (schools/hospitals) do their utmost to provide the most appetising pureed meals. The celebrity chef James Martin has been helping to promote better hospital food in his BBC2 series “Operation Hospital Food,” which included some delicious soup recipes http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b01r22ns. Now we need some more pureed recipes online and published in cookery books so that pureed food eaters can also experience that feeling of post meal gratification. Consider that food for thought, next time you tuck into your crunchy cereal / crispy chips / crumbly cookie!
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