The “Soft Diet” Blues

Last week I had two wisdom teeth pulled. Silly me, chose to stay awake for the procedure and now I think of torture scenes in movies when I remember seeing all the utensils the dentist used to pull and prod my teeth out of my jaw (shudder)…Don’t worry I’m not going to go into the details of staying awake during dental surgery, I’m here to talk about food…

Having your teeth pulled is a painful experience and it makes it really tough to chew foods. Luckily for me I only had the one side done (meaning I have to go back for round two in the future) so at least I could chew a bit. Despite this, I was advised to stay on a liquid/soft diet for at leat a few days after my surgery to limit chewing and prevent any food from getting stuck in the holes where my wisdom teeth once lived.

When you think of a liquid/soft diet you might get excited because who doesn’t love to eat ice cream, popsicles, apple sauce, smoothies and puddings all day long! And I was too for about the first day. I went out right after the dentist and got all the essentials: yogurt, frozen berries, pudding snack packs, a big tub of frozen yogurt and apple sauce. To add to this I wanted to make sure I got enough protein (important for wound healing) and some fibre (prevent constipation from T3s) so I added skim milk powder and wheat bran to my cart. I was all set and ready to induldge in tubs of ice cream and pudding.

And I must say, there was nothing I wanted more on the first day than foods I didn’t have to worry about opening my mounth too wide to eat (even talking hurt…) so I really enjoyed my pudding and ice cream. However, even by day 2 I was tired of the minimal mouth feel that pureed and liquid foods provided. I was especially bummed when my roommates invited me for a BBQ where I sat around watching everyone chew on steak while I ate my roasted mashed squash…I’m now on day 5 post wisdom teeth extraction and I’m starting to introduce a few foods that require more chewing like soft muffins and noodles in my chicken broth.

What my short experience on a pureed/soft diet provided me with was an appreciation for what persons with dyshpagia or any other chewing or swallowing impairments must go through when they have to live life on a restrictive diet. Working in the hospital on the Rehab unit (mostly patients recovering from strokes) I see a lot of patients on pureed diets with thickened liquids (imagine drinking water thickened to a honey consistency). Many of my patients are on this diet for the rest of their lives or at best for a month or two while their swallow improves enough to be upgraded to a different diet with more textures. Even some people living in residential care homes go the remainder of their lives being spoon fed pureed meat and mashed potatoes with thickened milk and water. It’s no wonder that many residents and patients choose to go against the advice of their doctors and health care providers and “eat at risk”.

I think it’s really important for any dietitian, speach language pathologist or health care worker to put themselves on modified textured diets to know what it feels like for their patients and clients when they ask them to live the rest of their lives eating this way. We take for granted the pleasure we get from biting into a crisp apple, chewing on crunchy mixed nuts or a medium rare steak. Think about the different textures on your plate next time you’re having dinner and how you would feel if you had to convert those to all one texture (think pureed steak with mashed potatoes and mashed peas…)


Cheesy Gluten Free Broccoli Quiche

ImageIf you’ve been following my blog posts you may already know that I am not one for making pie as I hate dealing with pie crust. So imagine my dismay when I had a craving for quiche and absolutely no desire to attempt a quiche crust.

But then I was looking through one of my cook books (Eat Shrink and Be Merry) and I found a quiche recipe that used rice for the crust, no messy pastry 🙂

I adapted the recipe for the ingredients I already had in the house. It’s super easy and great for lunch leftovers the next day.



1tsp olive oil
1/2 onion minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1.5 cups cooked brown rice (it’s a bit less than 1 cup not cooked but if you make too much just freeze for later)
5 TBSP grated grana padano, divided
2 TBSP liquid egg whites
2 whole eggs + enough liquid egg whites to fit 1.5 cups
1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets, blanched
1/2 cup chopped green beans, blanched
1 red pepper, roasted (or bottled roasted peppers)
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese (I used Jalsberg)
a bit of goat cheese (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil and oregano plus some dried dill
1 tomato sliced


1. If you’re not using bottled roasted red peppers, set your oven to broil and broil your pepper until charred
2. Preheat oven to 350F and spray a pie plate with cooking oil
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet and sautee onions and garlic until onions are tender
4. Mix onions with cooked rice and add 3tbsp of grated grana padano and 2 tbsp egg substitute
5. Spread rice mixture into pie plate evenly
6. Layer broccoli, roasted red peppers, and cheese in that order over the rice
7. Whisk the 2 eggs with the remaining egg whites with basil, oregano, salt, pepper and dill, pour over vegetables
8. Top quiche with tomato slices, 2 tbsp grana padano and some dill
9. Bake for 45 minutes until it’s puffed up and golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting

Serve with a fresh green salad
Tips: You can use cut up asparagus instead of the green beans and broccoli, change up the cheeses, if you like stronger flavours try aged cheddar mixed with mozzarella. You can also use 7 whole beaten eggs or just 1.5 cups of liquid egg whites instead of whole eggs mixed with liquid eggs.

Can you Talk While You Walk?

blurry,legs,men,together,walking,women,people,businessIt seems like spring has finally sprung in Prince George and the rest of British Columbia as we have finally received some sunlight and temperatures hovering around the 25C mark. With this warm weather and bright sunshine all I’ve wanted to do is sit in the sun all day getting my daily dose of vitamin D. So I was delighted the other day at work when my manager suggested we take one of our weekly dietitian meetings outside and go for a “walking meeting”.

What a great idea! And not a new one either. Some writings have shown that even Aristotle used to take his students out for walks during lectures.

The rates of heart disease and obesity are rising in North America where we average a whoping 9.3 hours of our day sitting. Even coco-cola made a commercial about the ill-effects of chairs (my thoughts on this commercial will have to be a part of another post).

It is recommended that we take 10 000 steps per day to reduce the risk of heart disease and lead a healthier lifestyle. Among other benefits, walking in the fresh outdoors gives a break from the office, it adds some physical activity to our otherwise sedentary work day, it helps to reboot energy and boost worker moral, and increases oxygen flow to the brain which can help stimulate new ideas.

We even found that our meeting was more efficient as we picked a route we knew would take the alloted 30 minutes to walk and made sure to discuss each agenda topic and wrap things up before we returned to our office.

Here are some tips to get your next office meeting off to a walking start:

1. Make an agenda and take it with you
2. Plan a route ahead of time and tell everyone what route you’re taking so that you don’t have to waste time during the meeting deciding this.
3. If everyone agrees, take a recorder with you, that way you don’t need to jot things down or worry about forgetting your meeting minutes.
4. Pick a quiet neighbourhood or park to go on your walk, avoid busy and loud streets
5. Make sure everyone has a good pair of walking shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather.

While walking meetings may not be suitable for all businesses or business meetings it certainly is a step in the right direction towards increasing employee health and well being. Try to fit them in weekly for best results.

Another Great Reason To Get Your Vitamins from Whole Foods

bowls,cheeses,cottage cheese,dairy products,dining,food groups,households,housewares,ice cream,ice creams,milk,Photographs,pitchersIn an attempt to promote whole foods over costly supplements, I always encourage my clients to avoid taking a multivitamin or other supplements if they can balance their meals and eat a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide. Scientists have not been able to prove that taking vitamins and supplements in their pill form is as effective as getting these nutrients from the whole foods. In addition, you cannot overdose on vitamins and minerals from the amounts found in whole foods whereas you can see symptoms of toxicity if you take too many supplements.

This article discusses some of the effects of calcium supplements including an increased risk of heart attack in women who took calcium supplements. The theory behind this is that calcium supplements enter the blood stream in higher doses than dietary calcium and can deposit in arteries.

On the other hand, some studies have found that calcium supplementation reduced the risk of fractures and had no effect on risk of heart attack.

This seemingly contradictory information makes it hard to decide if calcium supplementation is right for you. Keep  in mind that you can get enough calcium from your diet by eating foods rich in calcium such as dairy products (low fat milk and yogurt), fortified soy and other milk alternatives, and even spinach, canned fish with the bones in and Kale (the latter being lower sources of calcium compared to dairy).

If you do not eat a varied diet containing calcium rich foods or if you are on medications that may decrease calcium absorption, a calcium rich supplement may be appropriate for you, speak with your doctor or a Registered Dietitian for more information.