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My mom is in a nursing home w Dementia. The thickeners she's been on (nectar & honey) have increased her weight. She's inactive (and obese) and we are trying to get her to lose weight but the thickeners are hindering any progress so I was THINKING Chia to thicken her liquids. Pros & cons to this? Any other suggestions?

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Bethanne, My mthr went from below 100 to what is now estimated to be over 200 on her 4'9" frame in two years in memory care. She was a serious hoarder throughout her life and did not have a way to heat or refrigerate food for about 30 years. People like this will hide food to use later- and it turns out she was asking those at her table if they wanted their leftovers and eating those too, even when she should have been full. The director noticed that everyone who sat beside her would have a clean plate, even if they were unable to feed themselves... Hmm.

They stopped letting people sit to mthr's right where she could reach their plate, and she stopped gaining weight. Could sharing food be part of your mother's problem?
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Surprise, I use chia seeds in quiche. (I don't grind them.) I just wanted to add a little nutrition and the seeds look like a seasoning so they are not unappetizing. What I discovered is that my quiche really sets up nicer this way! I guess that is the thickening characteristic at work!

I am not anti-chia, but I think substituting it for a commercial thickener will add to the weight problem, not solve it.
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Jeannegibbs, I had not thought about grinding the chia for thickening things. The only place I've seen chia besides my oatmeal is in a kombucha my millennial son bought me! I really did not care for the bubbles of soft goo, and I can't imagine it being a good thickener.

BethAnne, Be sure to ask your dietician about the terms for how thick things are. Honey thickened drinks do NOT have honey in them, and nectar drinks have NO nectar- these are thickening instructions, not ingredients.
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The three popular thickeners sold in drug stores have 0, 15, or 20 calories per serving. You can ask the dietitian what the calorie count is of the one they use. Even if it 20 calories per serving, if Mom is drinking 10 glasses/cups of liquid per day, that is 200 calories extra per day. And the dietitian would take that into account when making her food plan.

There are 138 calories in one ounce of chia seeds. They also contain good nutrients. I don't know how much it takes to thicken a cup of coffee or glass of orange juice, but I would think that 10 servings a day would add up to far more calories than the thickener products.

I imagine the seeds would be ground to a powder to thicken liquids. One disadvantage is that because of their fat content they cannot be ground in large batches and stored for a long time. So someone has to grind them on a regular basis. Another is that some people get digestive upsets from them. If they are not fully expanded in the liquid they can expand in the throat, causing serious problems. And because of their color they may seem less appetizing to the person drinking it.

One risk of thickened liquids used over an extended period is dehydration. (Probably because people generally don't like the texture and drink less!) So making the liquid as appealing as possible has some value.

All honey has calories, whether it is directly from the hive or processed. All fruit juice has calories, including those called "nectar." But this is not relevant to this discussion because thickeners DO NOT contain honey or nectar. Honest. When I asked my husband's therapist how I could tell when I had his water thickened correctly, she said "it should be about as thick as nectar." Some people need it as thick as honey. This is only to help you judge the correct thickness. It has nothing to do with what is in the thickeners.
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Was your mother obese before she went into the nursing home? How old is she? Does her doctor want her to lose weight? Her lack of activity contributes to her weight. Any activity she would enjoy would be good for her.

I think dementia also contributes to weight fluctuations. The brain controls all aspects of our bodies, including metabolism, and damage to the brain can cause many things to get whacky (technical term).
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Again, Honey refers to the consistency of the beverage, it is thickened to a honey like consistency, NOT to any ingredients in the thickeners.
Most thickeners are modified starches or xanthan gum, and although they do contain calories it is minuscule compared to the cream and sugar in the coffee and the calories in the juices and other sweetened beverages she may be drinking.
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I have a meeting scheduled w the dietitian. Problem is the kitchen staff doesn't always follow what's on her slip. It's frustrating. But I'm not giving up.
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Thanks for replying. She drinks thickened water and coffee all day with meals. I can't imagine that they have nothing to do with her weight gain. Honey has sugar in it because I am sure they are not using honey directly from the hive. It's processed sugar not pure raw honey and even that honey has sugar in it as beekkeepets feed bees sugar in the spring and fall. Sugar makes you gain weight, so nectar and honey thickened liquids all day cannot be good. I just was hoping to find a thickener that wouldn't put weight on her. They have dropped her portion sizes but not much weight has come off at all. I know it's the thickeners😕
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If she is in a nursing home you should be meeting with the staff to voice your concerns about her weight gain. Facilities should have dietary staff that are trained in managing special diets and there is usually some attempt made to include residents in some form of exercise program.
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I would not want to feed my demented mthr any chia. She's incontinent, and it's bad enough to walk into her bathroom and find remains that the staff missed. If I found an actual chia seed that was missed, I'd totally loose it. Yick!
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I can't see how chia could ever be used successfully as a thickener, and since it is a laxative consuming large amounts could have unwanted side effects.
Nectar and Honey refer to the degree of thickness, they are NOT ingredients in thickeners. If she only needs her fluids nectar/honey thick then she really isn't consuming nearly as much as someone who needs Pudding thickness, and in any case the calories in thickeners are pretty small.
I think you need to examine her dietary intake a little more fully to see what is causing her weight gain.
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