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We Eat With Our Eyes

Oct 24, 2022

At Nutrition Professionals Australia, we understand that as people get older their nutritional needs change. With this comes the need for well-presented meals – first impressions matter and that counts for food too.  

The importance of food presentation  
It is important not to underestimate the need for well-presented food, particularly in aged care. Colours, contrasts, and textures all matter when arranging food on the plate. How a person perceives the food they are given will greatly impact the amount of food they decide to eat and whether it is an enjoyable mealtime experience.  

Focusing on food presentation allows you to present a meal in an appetising and appealing way. This extra effort is particularly necessary when presenting texture-modified foods – by “feeding the eyes” meal satisfaction will increase as well as food consumption and nutritional intake. Overall leaving you with happier and healthier residents.  

The visual characteristics that make a meal more desirable are perceived differently by all of us, which is why we are drawn to different foods. Any method to increase food intake should be used as a strategy to ensure our aged care residents are getting the nutrition they require.  

Food plating tips for aged care homes 
Mealtime is a central part of the day in aged care, with the smell and appearance of the meals playing an important role in the overall dining experience. Making dishes that residents look forward to is a small step to ensure they receive the relevant nutritional needs for their age. Below are some food plating tips we would recommend when serving food in an aged care home.  

Offer variety
Supplying a range of different vegetables and colours will instantly make the dish look more enticing. Vibrant food is more appealing – try spinach, beetroot and sweet potato.  

Food moulds for texture-modified foods 
Putting texture-modified foods into shapes, such as pieces of carrot using a food mould can increase the likelihood of a resident eating their meal.  

It is important to understand that ageing residents may get confused, therefore supplying them with a menu that describes what is on their plate is recommended. Residents are more likely to eat the food they are given if they can identify what it is they are going to eat. 

Plate with care 
First impressions count, therefore it is worth considering how a high-end chef would plate their meals. Layering and smearing purees with bite-sized pieces of food or adding herbs such as parsley to add colour can add interest to the meal. It is suggested that condiments are available on the side, without overpowering the main meal.  

Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach 
It is key to take the time to understand the different preferences a resident has as well as cultural considerations. Not everyone is the same, therefore taking the time to get to know the people within the aged care home will benefit both the employees and the residents themselves.  

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