Mealtime Partners, Inc.

Specializing in Assistive Dining and Drinking Equipment

November 2014 Independent Eating and Drinking Newsletter

Independent Eating...   is a Wonderful Thing

November Topics:

  • The Multisensory Aspects of Tasting

  • Holiday Gift Recommendations

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The Multisensory Aspects of Tasting

This article provides information about new discoveries relating to how we “taste” food and drinks based upon our environment and things that are in the environment. In February 2011 an article about our ability to taste was published in this Newsletter. It provides basic information about taste. This article will go further and provide insight into how our taste is influenced beyond the basics of taste buds and smell.

There are five different categories of taste: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. (Umami is a pleasing savory taste that can be found in meats, tomatoes, etc.) It was previously thought that taste buds in specific areas of the tongue tasted different flavors, but now it is well known that receptors within taste buds can taste any and all of the five flavors. New findings from a study conducted at Columbia University have recognized that taste receptors in the mouth are hard-wired to the brain and different flavors stimulate different neurons in the brain. With this new understanding of how the mouth and brain interact with information about flavor, it is hoped that future research may be able to enhance this response in the elderly who, as they age, loose the acuteness of their sense of taste. Thus, they enjoy eating less because food just doesn’t taste as good as it used to. If the neurons in the brain can be stimulated more, possibly the appeal of food can be increased.

Our sight and sense of touch also have a big influence on how food tastes. A study conducted at the University of Oxford in England, revealed that cutlery can influence the perception of taste. Study participants judged white yogurt to taste sweeter when eaten from a white spoon than when eaten from a black spoon. Another phase of the study offered cheese on a knife, fork, spoon and toothpick. Participants found that the cheese eaten from the knife tasted saltiest. Judging from these findings it can be understood that taste and eating is a multi-sensory experience that can be changed simply by making minor adjustments to the environment.

This is graphically illustrated by a study that evaluated the taste of whiskey. If the whiskey was drunk in a room with a grass floor and the sound of lawn mowers, birds chirping and green lighting, the drinker found the taste to be “grassy”. Change the setting to red light, curved edges and tinkling bells, the drink tasted sweet. Change the setting to creaking floorboards, a crackling fire, and music from a bass and the experience was judged to be “woody” and the best whisky drinking experience. Once again, the same taste was deemed to be different when the environment was changed.

With these new findings an opportunity is created for food and drink marketers and the science is referred to as "neurogastronomy". The term was coined by leading neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd who is laying the foundations for this new scientific field. A book describing this new science is available at amazon.

Referring back to the whiskey experiment, imagine if a bottle of whiskey is packaged to create a multisensory experience using color and texture to appeal to the buyer. Could this change the way the consumer sensed the taste? Japanese whiskey marketers are currently experimenting with this concept.

This science is also being used in restaurants. Chefs have known for a long time that presentation of food is very important. However, the level of impact that food presentation had upon the palette was not fully understood. Ferron Adria, a famous Spanish chef, served the same pink strawberry dessert to a table full of people. On one side of the table the dessert was presented on white plates. On the other side of the table the dessert was served on black plates. Guests eating from the white plates thought the dessert was sweeter than those eating from the black plates. The experiment was extended to evaluate the shape of the plate and it was found that food served on a square plate was viewed as tasting different from same food served on a round plate.

Big food companies have been taking note of these findings. Nestles was impressed with something called “mouth geometry” that contends that food that fits snugly on the tongue influences how the flavor is perceived. Their competition, Cadbury, jumped on this concept and changed the shape of their chocolate bar from its original rectangular shape that broke into chunks, into rounds. The result was complaints from customers because they believed the recipe had been changed, even though it hadn’t. Up until recently, food scientists working for big companies worked to develop flavors that sold more products with a view to increasing sales without much regard for the negative impact the ingredients in the food may have on its consumers. This was described in an earlier Newsletter article titled: The Science of Snack Food.

Now the major food industry companies are realizing that they can actually help improve the health of their consumers without them being displeased with flavor changes. For example, Nestles has reduced the sugar in Nesquik by a quarter. Some changes have not been received well, but there is a growing population that is interested in eating healthy food and thus the food industry is making adjustments to capture this market.

This area of science is expanding rapidly and more information and studies are becoming available all of the time. Mealtime Partners will try to update you periodically because much of the information becoming available can be of help in facilitating individuals who have difficulties consuming enough calories to find eating more enjoyable and thus help them eat more.

Imagine sitting down to your holiday dinner with family and friends. Last year one of your loved ones needed to be fed, but this year they can eat independently because they have a Mealtime Partner Dining System. With this system people are able to eat independently, at the pace that they choose; and they do not have to wait to be fed. They have autonomy with the rest of the people at the dining table! What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays. Click the following link to learn more about how to gain mealtime independence for those who cannot feed themselves.
The Mealtime Partner Dining System
The Mealtime Partner Dining System is quick and easy to learn and has no complicated programming requirements. Each Dining System comes with a complete training video on DVD so new users and caregivers can learn to use it in just a few minutes. Click here to view some of the instructional videos.

As well as it being placed directly on a table for use (as shown), the Mealtime Partner has three additional mounting systems: Legs (3 lengths), Mounting Shafts (5 lengths), and a variable height Support Arm. Using one of these mounting systems, the Mealtime Partner Dining Device can be positioned to meet the needs of a diverse range of users, regardless of their size and disability. For additional information, please call us at 800-996-8607, or email our staff for assistance by clicking here.

Holiday Gift Recommendations

The holiday season is fast approaching and this article will make some recommendations for holiday gifts for family and friends who have disabilities. Of course, we will suggest products that are available through Mealtime Partners, and we will try to make buying holiday gifts from Mealtime Partners trouble free by providing free gift wrapping on orders purchased during the remainder of November and all of December 2014.

To request gift wrapping for you order, simply tell us in the “Message or Comment” section of the order form that you would like your gift purchase wrapped. If you would like to include a message to the gift recipient please tell us what you want to say in this section, as well.

Because of the great importance of maintaining adequate hydration, a hands free drinking system is always an appropriate gift for anyone who depends on others for liquids.

Gift Suggestion Number OneThe Front Mounted Drinking System

The Front Mounted Drinking System

This drinking system can be attached to a wheelchair, metal bed rail or table top and can hold the beverage of their choice. For example, it can provide access to a cup of coffee, a can of soda, a glass of ice tea, or a beer (bottle or can). Simply insert the drink container into the cup holder, add a straw and the individual using it can drink at the pace that they choose. This drinking system is appropriate for users of all ages and makes a practical holiday gift. One of the primary advantages of this drinking system is that it can accommodate disposable containers (and straws). This makes clean-up the easiest of all drinking systems. For more information about this drinking system and for assistance in selecting the appropriate flex-arm lengths, please visit “Drinking: The Front Mounted Drinking System” on our website.

Gift Suggestion Number TwoThe Drink-Aide Drinking System

The Drink-Aide Drinking System

The Drink-Aide Drinking System provides a cup holder that attaches to the handle of a wheelchair and an insulated bottle that fits into the cup holder. The bottle has a flexible tube that is attached to the lid. The drinking tube is threaded through the flexible tubing and the flexible tubing allows the drinking tube to be positioned close to the user’s mouth. The drinking tube will stay in position once it is adjusted. The bottle holds 28-ounces of liquid which provides the user with a supply of liquid to last several hours.

Gift Suggestion Number Three - The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning

Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning

The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning is an ideal gift for those who are on the go and away from home for extended periods. It provides the user a way to have a drink of water with them all of the time. The backpack has straps that allow it to attach to the back of a wheelchair and it holds a bladder of water. The drinking tube is contained in a flexible tube which holds it in place. Thus hands-free drinking is readily available.

Gift Suggestion Number FourThe Mealtime Partners Cover-up

The Mealtime Partners Cover-Up HOLIDAY SPECIAL OFFER
Two for the price of one!

These clothing protectors are special because they can be wiped off after each meal or snack and they are ready to use again. The exterior is made of soft vinyl and the inside is flannel that is comfortable for the wearer.

For this holiday season Mealtime Partners is offering 2 Cover-ups for the price of one! Place an order for one and put “ 2 for the price of 1 “ in the Message or Comment box of the on-line order form to receive your extra cover-up. (This offer expires at the end of 2014.)

For those who are impacted by illness and disease, nutrition and fluid intake are important. Mealtime Partners provides a range of products to allow individuals who are unable to feed themselves or take a drink without help, to continue to be able to conduct these activities independently. For more information about all of the Mealtime Partners Eating and Drinking Systems, please visit the Mealtime Partner website.

Did You Know? Did you know that it is time to get your annual influenza shot (flu shot)? Flu shots are important for everyone, but they are especially important to infants, children, and people over 65. Those who work in schools, hospitals and clinics are also especially at risk of contracting flu if they don’t receive a flu shot. Flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include: fever, or feeling feverish/chills; a cough; a sore throat; a runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; fatigue (tiredness); and, some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. Serious cases can result in the need for hospitalization and even death. The young and old, and people with pre-existing conditions are especially vulnerable to catching the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the vaccine for 2014-2015 flu-season will protect against influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine.

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