Home cooking for our housemates: Dessert First.

We live in a golden age of information. Science moves at the speed of light, and technology exposes us to a seemingly infinite stream of new knowledge on nearly every topic. And nowhere is that knowledge more abundant than in the area of nutrition. 

On one hand, it’s exciting. Logic suggests that the more we know, the better. But the more we learn, the more we understand that the ideas we once held as absolute truth simply aren’t. For decades, many nutritionists embraced and propagated the fundamentals of the USDA Food Pyramid, which, when introduced in 1992,  touted the benefits of a diet heavy in carbohydrates – and light in fats. Over time, new studies suggested that healthy diet required higher proportions of protein and healthy fats. The impact of this new knowledge spurred an explosion of new diets, with celebrity authors touting regimens that effectively turned the Food Pyramid upside down. 

Today, it’s clear that new studies outpace the ability of most consumers to successfully distinguish hype from facts. As a result, many people move from one new diet regimen to another, seeking a nutritional balance that fits the practical demands of everyday life, ensures a healthy weight, and provides the energy necessary to maintain a desired lifestyle. 

At The Mooring, we’ve arrived at a simpler approach to nutrition we call “Dessert First.” On its face, the name might seem counterintuitive. Dessert, after all, is the antithesis of the USDA’s original food pyramid, drawing to mind foods that are full of fat, sugar and processed carbohydrates. But Dessert First doesn’t mean we eat nothing but cake and cookies. It means we provide authentic home cooked foods to offer nutritionally balanced dining options that housemates love, ensuring they’ll eat well, regularly, and enthusiastically. 

To understand the logic of Dessert First, home-cooked dining, it’s worthwhile to consider a few important facts:

  1. Dessert First doesn’t mean dessert only. Have faith: we’d never advocate a diet that substitutes sheer decadence for good health. But we do work hard to learn the dining preferences of each and every housemate – and we provide healthy, responsible access to the from-scratch, home-cooked foods they love. 
  2. Dementia can interfere with appetite and the physical ability to eat. Appetites tend to change in those with dementia – and those changes impact different people in different ways. Some lose their appetite, which can lead to rapid weight loss. Others develop cravings for sugary foods, increasing the risk of weight gain and diabetes. Still others experience a diminished sense of taste, which can decrease appetite, or increase desire for more intense flavors. And as some forms of dementia advance, muscular degeneration can make the very act of eating difficult. At The Mooring, our talented culinary staff pays close attention to these ongoing appetite and physical evolutions, and we create customized menus that balance health, flavor and appeal. 
  3. We don’t rely on nutritional shakes in lieu of real food. Faced with changing appetites, many memory care facilities supplement real food with nutritional shakes. To be clear, there are instances that call for extreme measures to meet nutritional needs. But at The Mooring, we’re strong believers in the physical and emotional benefits of meeting those needs with regular meals of healthy, delicious food. Thus far, we’ve been able to meet that objective with all of our housemates, all of the time.  
  4. Dining can be a source of connection – and joy. Like at home, meals at The Mooring provide time to connect, to interact, and to share the pleasure of delicious, thoughtfully prepared food. Because we appreciate the individual preferences of each housemate, we also support those occasions that call for a quiet, reflective meal apart from other diners. 
  5. Food is love. One look at a typical Mooring meal speaks volumes: our chef and care partners put immense care and love into the food they prepare. And when housemates see and sample their choices, they feel it. Nothing is more satisfying than witnessing the contentment and satisfaction of a housemate as he or she savors a lovingly prepared meal. 

Make no mistake: we’re committed to good nutrition. It’s vital to the health and wellbeing of our housemates. But because made-from-scratch, home-cooked food is one of life’s most reliable pleasures, we focus on preparing meals that connect on a nutritional and emotional level. 

Consider the trappings of a thoughtfully prepared home-cooked meal, or an evening out at a favorite restaurant: the anticipation of sampling from a range of equally enticing options. The pleasure of viewing beautifully presented food before taking the first bite. The rush of flavors. The satisfying afterglow of a full stomach and a full heart. 

They’re sensations we strive for with every meal. Judging from the appetites and reactions of our housemates, we achieve them. And that’s what Dessert First is all about.