She arranges twelve plates on the table, all kinds of fruits, fresh and dried vegetables, flavored popcorn, and a plate of dark chocolate. There are six writers at the table, and they each take one bite of each food.
Then Mary gives each person a pink tablet, a single MBerry, the “Miracle Fruit Tablet,” that takes a few minutes to dissolve on the tongue. For a man’s perspective, my husband Jim has been invited to participate in this Wednesday’s writing group—or at least the food experiment—and we’re all fascinated with each step.
The tastes of the foods after the MBerry tablets dissolve are staggeringly altered. The tart limes and sour lemons are sweet; the dark chocolate is an entirely new flavor; some of the tastes are deliciously unrecognizable, and so on. Numerous adjectives are applied to each food.
Mary Zalmanek, one of my Wednesday writers, regular contributor to both RV and MOTOR HOME magazines, and author of THE ART OF THE SPARK, has furnished an amazing experience…and writing prompt. She says that MBerries are more than just a fun game. They can be great diet foods, giving fresh fruits or veggies the tastes of exotic desserts, and that inspires others come up with more delicious possibilities, too.
For me, this fun experiment that has us all laughing is also a sobering reality check. It gives me a first-hand sample of what my mother, and my dad, before he died of Alzheimer’s—and other dementia and Alzheimer’s patients—struggle with at meals. They can no longer recognize formerly familiar foods; the tastes and smells confuse them, and this often diminishes their appetites. They lose another interest and another memory.
Tomorrow, July 2, is I FORGOT DAY. It’s a day of awareness: what do we want to remember; what would we like to forget? If we have a bad day on Tuesday, or any day, we can choose to either remember it or forget it.
Choose is the key word here. Those who suffer with memory loss, head injuries, dementia or Alzheimer’s, do not get to choose.
For the rest of us, tomorrow–or the day after, or any day–is a good day to do what we can to help them: listen and appreciate their efforts, share stories we know about them and their interests, or take them out for a walk or a ride in their wheelchair—crossing the threshold of their confinement—to see, hear, touch, smell the places they’ve forgotten since their last outing. It’s worth a try.
34 responses to “FOOD FLIP”
A little teary…because it made think if my mom. I never knew they lost their sense of taste. I was always disappointed when I would bring her something I knew she loved and she wouldn’t show any interest.
Miss you guys!
I miss you, too, Carol. You would have had such a fun time “taste testing” at the round table with us, and I would have loved having you back with us, reading your pages and working on a new project with us! 🙂 ❤
Hi Marylin, I love the writing exercise you describe. How different it must be to taste the usual foods but their taste is changed around? I can only imagine!
And to compare this to the taste sensors in our loved ones with Alzheimer’s is thought provoking. I think of my own aunt who has been slowly declining for years with this disease and I suddenly feel closer to her.
God bless you and your family. Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend.
Thank you so much, Joanne. Each month when I drive to Kansas to visit my mother, I never know what foods will tempt her, so I take a variety of things. It really was a learning curve for me to realize that the sense or taste and smell–in addition to the ability to remember–is altered and lost for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
Blessings on you and your family this 4th of July weekend, and always. ❤
Marylin – Your post is a sobering reminder, to all of us who have not experienced dementia in any of it’s ugly forms, of what our loved ones have or do experience on a daily basis. Thank you for being an advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. You are wonderful! XO
Thank you, Robyn. It’s not something I’d have volunteered to do before my dad’s Alzheimer’s and now my mom’s dementia. And I must admit, a part of me wants to learn all I can and possibly fight against both diseases since I have them on both sides of my family.
Thank you for introducing me to mberries sitting around the table with your writing group – and Jim (how sweet to include him).
I want to draw a line from this scene to my aunt’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Just a few days ago her upper dentures broke in two. Apparently she can still taste foods that she loves to eat, partially confirming my suspicion that she has generalized dementia, not Alzheimer’s, which could never be verified because of her pacemaker. We’re also doing a happy dance because my brother’s dentist offered to fix her dentures same day at no charge, a great reminder that there are still kind and generous people in the world.
Everyone who taste tests your blog each week knows you offer delicious morsels. One again, I learned something new. Thanks, Marylin.
I’m not an authority, Marian, but from all I’ve read and learned, I’d agree that since your aunt’s taste has not been affected, it sounds like she has generalized dementia instead of Alzheimer’s. There really is a big difference, in both behaviors and end results.
Thank you for your kind words and feedback. 😉
I’ve never heard of MBerry tablets, Marylin. Where can they be purchased? Lately, I’ve noticed my mother’s decreased appetite and I’ve assumed it’s stemming from lack of taste. Your last paragraph should be re-read by everyone…well said! ❤
Some health food shops now carry them, Jill, and I think Mary orders hers online. Try Amazon or google MBerries. And if you do try this with your mother and it increases her appetite, please let me know. It won’t work with my mom as she won’t let anything dissolve on her tongue. If it’s chewed or swallowed like a pill, it doesn’t change the taste buds on the tongue, and even when it does work, the effect lasts only about 30 minutes. 🙂
Jill, I found the website. See below on my response to Tracy.
This sounds like an interesting activity. The Art Linkletter quote is so true!
I grew up hearing that “Kids Say The Darnedest Things”–which was certainly true–and when Linkletter says “Old Age Is Not For Sissies” I certainly know that is true, too, Darlene! 😉
Oh, wow, Marylin, I’ve never heard of MBerry’s, I’ll have to see if these are available in Canada. I like how you tied these MBerry’s in with writing and with those, like your parents, who have and had to deal with Alzheimer’s. Happy forgetfulness day tomorrow. Blessings. ❤️
And a very happy day to you, too, Tracy.
I found the website for you and Jill: http://www.mberry.us
The only ingredients are corn starch and Miracle Fruit Powder: no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or proteins, and on the site they sell fresh mberries, the tablets like we used, and also plants to grow your own to eat fresh off the branches! 😉
Thanks for the link, Marylin! 👍
I would benefit so much from this writing workshop describing different flavors. I struggled describing my apricot dumplings . I don’t know if like MBerries.
After you let an MBerry dissolve on your tongue, Gerlinde, I guarantee you would taste a very different flavor for your apricot dumplings. 😉
I would much prefer you dumplings without MBerry tablets.
Mary Z’s mberry experiment was great fun! She brought quite an assortment of flavors to test. Sour definitely becomes sweet. The mberry puts a new spin on the notion of “making lemonade out of lemons.” 🙂
As for the Day of Awareness yesterday (a day to remember or to forget something), we discovered and choose “to remember” that the juice of a plant we yanked out of your garden was probably Hogweed, a relative of the wild parsnip and Queen Anne Lace family. The juice from these plants on human skin (e.g., from a broken stem) causes a very troublesome rash when exposed to sunlight. And you would like “to forget” your rash, Marylin, if it would just go away!!! 😦
A warning to everyone, both Wild Parsnip and Wild Hogweed look like Queen Anne Lace, very sturdy and yet the lacy blossoms look delicate, and now they’re causing bad problems in all 50 states (it used to be mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota).
If you find some suddenly in your garden, among flowers and appearing in your yard, do NOT cut it down. Wear heavy long gloves, and when you pull it out, there will be a carrot-like root. Do not touch it; bag it carefully and put it in a trash can. I had the bad rash on my wrists, between my fingers and up to my elbows–because I was working around this culprit.
A huge thank you to my husband for researching this poisonous weed, keeping me out of the sun to help it heal, and doing this before I ended up in the ER or a Redi-Care! Thank you, honey! ❤ ❤ ❤
I’ve never heard of MBerry’s, but you had me sit and up and think about the loss and confusion over taste for those with dementia and Alzheimers. So sad. My mother still finds food difficult since her stroke because loss of certain tastes, but they are gradually returning. I worried about her not eating properly for a while. Thank you dear Marylin for your reminder not to forget just one way life is affected as a whole when certain illness strikes and for making us more aware. ❤
Sherri, I’m so glad your mother’s sense of taste is returning now. Loss of taste really does affect the desire to eat, and older people need to eat well to be healthy…and enjoy it to retain life pleasures. Your mother doesn’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and my mother hasn’t had a stroke, but we still struggle against many of the same battles.
Good luck to all of us!
Have a wonderful week, dear Sherri! ❤
Yes, and we support one another through the struggles. Thank you so much dearest Marylin, bless you…<3
I didn’t realize those with Alzheimers had that problem with altered food tastes. My goodness. How unhappy to face the loss of so basic a pleasure.
From month to month driving to Kansas, I never know what my mother will enjoy eating, or even want to try to eating, Jane. And she’s not unusual; this affects many with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and as Sherri wrote, it affects her mother, too, after her stroke.
You’re right, Jane; eating should be a basic please, and it is sad when the loss of taste is hampered.
Thank you for sharing the experiment, and for the reminders, too.
You’re very welcome, Merril! 😉
The mberry experiment sounds like it was so much fun. I would love to do this with my students, it would be so much fun to see their reaction to the change in taste. Grace and Gannon would have so much fun with this, too!
It is so interesting to see which foods spark an interest in Grandma each month, or each time we see her. I always try to think back on the things that she and I enjoyed together when I would visit. There are times that the Cherry Limeades, Rootbeer floats, cookies, Coke, cake, and fun flavored yogurts have perked her up, but there is no rhyme or reason to what she is interested in. Dementia has definitely played a mean trick on Grandma’s taste buds.
And then, when we least expect it, Grandma goes back to liking the things she used to. It’s very much like you as a little girl; I never knew from one day to the next what your “favorite” foods would be. 😉
I’ll get you some MBerries to share with your students. You do such creative things with them, and they’ll probably have a great time.
Love you lots!
I learned at school this year that your taste buds change every 30 minutes. So when you find something you like, you better eat it fast before your taste buds change. Maybe that is why grandma likes different things each time we go see her.
Love you Gannon
Oh, Gannon, you come up with the most interesting things! You’re right; we’ll need to eat fast before our taste buds change! Love you, sweetie
It sure would be fun to do the food experiment. I wonder if it would change the taste of other foods like macaroni and cheese, pizza and chicken nuggets. The little pills could be used as a safe and fun April Fools day trick. Hmmmmm…..I will have to think about that one some more.
I can’t wait to see you and Grandpa and Scouters.
We didn’t try mac’n cheese, pizza, etc. during the writing group, Grace, so I don’t know what MBerries would do to those foods. We’ll have to get some MBerries and do our own experiments! We can’t wait to see all of you and drive to Ft. Scott to celebrate Great-Grandma’s birthday! Love you lots! ❤