How swallowing difficulties can affect daily life
What is dysphagia?
Dysphagia, otherwise known as swallowing difficulties, is often a result of problems in the mouth, throat or oesophagus. The oesophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.
Living with swallowing difficulties can have a negative impact on daily life if the right steps are not put in place to help individuals enjoy a better quality of life. For example, eating can become an uncomfortable and stressful experience, completely diminishing the enjoyment of mealtimes.
If you or a loved one are living with dysphagia, we’re sure you have many questions on how this could affect daily life. We hope this article will give clarity on how swallowing difficulties can be effectively managed and offer solutions to make the transition to a new lifestyle as smooth as possible.
1. Importance of visual presentation and taste
Although some aspects of your life may be affected by dysphagia, that doesn’t mean your enjoyment of food should diminish. As well as the enjoyment of food, another thing that should not change is the ability to dine with dignity. As we eat with our eyes first, it is important for the visual presentation and taste of food being offered to be considered when preparing food for a loved one. Food that looks attractive increases appetite and makes you want to eat. Blending all the components of a meal to make it safer is a common process, however serving a meal like this may look and taste unappealing, which reduces appetite and the desire to eat.
The importance of food that tastes good should never be overlooked. When blending food, water and other liquids are often added to achieve the desired consistency, but this can often impact on taste. Even when puréed, food should resemble their original appearance, as food is likely to be more appetising if it is recognisable to the individual. Blending foods separately and using moulds where possible can help greatly improve the visual appeal of food and get the body prepared to eat and digest. Moreover, providing food which tastes delicious, whilst also offering plenty of options which take preferences, dietary and cultural requirements into account is a crucial part of helping loved ones to eat.
Our range of pre-prepared texture-modified meals offer a solution to this. The Wiltshire Farm Foods Softer Foods range includes a variety of meals which are blended and moulded separately to resemble the individual components in their original form. These meals are not only safer but make the meal more appealing and more recognisable.
2. Using dining experience to overcome social isolation
It is important for those living with swallowing difficulties to feel confident and comfortable eating in the presence of others. Fear of choking and coughing, or of being unable to eat their meal with dignity often leads to individuals feeling too embarrassed to eat in front of family. However, research has shown that being part of a group is a rewarding experience and eating with others also enhances our enjoyment of food.
To promote well-being for those living with conditions such as dysphagia, it is important that dining experiences are made as enjoyable as possible, and that people are encouraged to eat together. As well as helping them to eat amply and healthily, a social situation stimulates the mind and encourages interaction with others. Therefore, friends and relatives should be supportive, help maintain a welcoming dining environment and encourage loved ones to dine with family, friends or at social lunch clubs whenever possible.
3. The convenience of pre-prepared texture-modified meals
Home-blending is a common, yet inconsistent method of creating texture-modified meals, which despite best efforts presents many hazards and challenges that could increase the risk of choking. It is also important to be aware of the foods that should be avoided based on texture and consistency, for example foods that are stringy or contain seeds.
Pre-prepared texture-modified meals are a great solution to providing appealing, nutritiously-balanced meals that also reduce the risk of choking. Our Softer Foods range caters for a range of levels of swallowing difficulty and many dietary requirements, giving your loved ones a wide range of choice to suit their appetite at any given point in the day. These meals are also a practical option for those wanting to still enjoy social meals with friends and family as they can be easily cooked in a microwave or oven.
Ordering couldn’t be easier – whether you prefer to order online or over the phone. What's more, all our meals are delivered directly to your freezer by one of our friendly local drivers, meaning our great food is there when you need it, and on ice when you don’t.
So, why not order a copy of our Softer Foods brochure, which features all our meals in more detail? Simply request a free brochure from the link below.
 Suzanne Higgs and Jason Thomas, ‘Social Influences of Eating’, in Current Opinion of Behavioural Sciences, (2015)
*Wiltshire Farm Foods content does not replace the advice of any registered Healthcare Professional and you should always seek the advice of your General Practitioner when making changes to your diet. The guidelines in this article are for general healthy eating purposes and if you have any conditions that may require a specialised diet or fluid restriction then you must follow the advice of your dedicated Healthcare Professional.