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Stroke Smart Magazine

May/June 2008

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Healthy Meal Preparation: 12 Tips for Stroke Survivors

By Val Moses

Preparing healthy food doesn’t have to take a lot time. You just have to know your particular post-stroke challenges and have a plan to work around them.

Stroke survivors may face unique challenges when eating healthy. They may have problems with fatigue, or maybe they cannot swallow normal food. Sometimes they just don’t know how to prepare foods that meet their needs.

The challenges can be overwhelming, says Deb Vevea, a registered dietitian at North Memorial Health Care in suburban Minneapolis. For 25 years, Vevea has helped hundreds of stroke survivors find useful strategies for preparing easy, healthy meals at home.

According to Vevea, the first challenge is getting started. To make things simple, she recommends the Plate Method as a tool to create a well-balanced meal. Divide your plate into  three areas: one-fourth for starch, one-fourth for protein and half for fruits and vegetables. Add milk or yogurt and you have an ideal meal. Most importantly, Vevea suggests, don’t even try to do it perfectly.

For stroke survivors who face special challenges, Vevea has these tips:

Too tired to cook?

  • Cook when you feel best. If that’s in the morning, make your main meal for breakfast and eat something easy, such as cereal, for dinner.
  • Let a Crock Pot do the work. Assemble your dish in the morning so it’s ready by  dinnertime.
  • Drink your meal; use a blender to make a smoothie out of fresh fruits and vegetables. For those who don’t want to chop and peel, substitute frozen or no-syrup, canned goods on occasion.

Is swallowing a problem?

  • Thicken your fluids by adding fruit nectars or applesauce and mixing it in a blender.
  • Choose soft proteins, such as beans, fish, peanut butter and cottage cheese.
  • Tenderize meats by marinating them or slow-cooking in a Crock-PotŪ.

Lost your sense of taste?

  • Use spices to liven up your foods (but avoid hot spices).
  • Try a squeeze of lemon juice, which will heighten the flavor of any dish.
  • For a little zest, add dry white wine to soups, stews and meat dishes.

Need to watch your salt or fat intake?

  • Enjoy your favorite foods but reduce salt and fat to make them healthier.
  • Avoid high-sodium (salt) condiments such as soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Increase your appetite and metabolism by being active and drinking plenty of fluids.


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