Purée Ready Meals: The Ultimate Guide
Here at Wiltshire Farm Foods we like to share our nutritional expertise, whether that’s through our blog posts, interviews with our in-house Dietitian or by providing delicious meals from our Softer Foods range. This guide intends to highlight the considerations for anyone who requires a puréed diet and provide some friendly guidance on living well with swallowing difficulties.
Why do I need a purée diet?
Purée meals are those that have had their texture modified to a smooth, puréed consistency, usually through a blending and thickening process. This is done to make the food safer to swallow for those with swallowing difficulties, otherwise known as dysphagia. Dysphagia can present symptoms including:
- Coughing or choking when eating or drinking.
- Experiencing the sensation that food is stuck in the throat or chest.
- Aspiration – where food goes down the windpipe and into the lungs, which may result in infection.
Dysphagia is a secondary condition, meaning it is usually the result of another condition such as dementia, stroke, head and neck cancers or respiratory diseases such as COPD. Dysphagia is usually diagnosed via a swallow assessment performed by a Speech and Language Therapist. In some cases, a Barium swallow test will be used. More information on the Barium swallow test can be found here.
Who decides what diet is safe for me to eat?
You may hear the generic terms ‘soft food diet’ or ‘dysphagia diet’, but individuals with dysphagia may be recommended a specific level of texture modification depending on the severity of their swallowing difficulty, if they are reviewed by a Speech and Language Therapist.*
These levels are set out by the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDSSI) and have been adopted by the NHS. For texture modified food, these levels include:
- Level 4 - Puréed
- Level 5 - Minced & Moist
- Level 6 - Soft & Bite-Sized
What should the consistency of puréed food be?
To ensure you are eating the correct consistency for a Level 4 Purée meal it should meet the following criteria:
- No lumps
- Not sticky
- Should be one consistent texture; liquid should not separate from solids
- Cannot be poured or drunk from a cup
- Should fall off a spoon in a single mass when the spoon is tilted
Foods to avoid on a purée diet
When considering a purée diet, there are some foods that may present either a challenge to blend, or a risk to the individual as they can be difficult to swallow. The following is a list of the high-risk foods to avoid with dysphagia:
- Mixed consistency foods – these are any foods with more than one texture or consistency that can prove challenging for someone with dysphagia. E.g. cereals that do not blend well with milk, minced meat with a gravy that is thin, bread that has been dipped in soup.
- Food that contains husks (husks are the dry outer covering of some fruits or seeds) - e.g. granary or other multi-grain breads and vegetables such as sweetcorn.
- Foods with a fibrous or ‘stringy’ texture - e.g. celery, green beans, melted cheese or pineapple.
- Fruit or vegetables with thick skins, seeds or pips - e.g. baked beans, peas, grapes and tomatoes.
- Crunchy and crumbly items such as toasts, biscuits, crackers, crisps, pie crusts.
- Hard foods – sweets, tough meat, nuts, seeds.
- Bread is usually only recommended to be safe on a case-by-case basis as per guidance from your Speech and Language Therapist.
Importance of nutrition in a puréed diet
Further to high-risk foods, it is also important to consider the nutritional content of a texture modified diet. Research has shown that 48% of people with dysphagia as a result of stroke suffer from malnutrition or are at risk of malnutrition. This could simply be a result of a reduced appetite or could be due to the method in which foods are blended, for example, if water is added to aid the blending process, this can significantly dilute the nutritional value of the meal.
To help prevent any unintentional weight loss at home, as long as you maintain the correct texture diet, you can fortify your meals with additional calories and protein by adding grated cheese, milk, cream, butter or oils during the blending process.
Alternatively, the Wiltshire Farm Foods Purée Petite range contains a similar calorie and protein content as our larger Purée Classic meals but come in a smaller serving size, perfect for maximizing nutritional intake for those with smaller appetites.
You can see how the portion sizes vary between our Purée Petite meals and our Purée Classic meals below.
How can Wiltshire Farm Foods help?
If you are concerned about having difficulty with blending your own meals at home, not to mention the washing up, then Wiltshire Farm Foods have an award-winning Softer Foods range for you. We have 38 delicious puréed ready meals, alongside snacks and desserts, all of which are prepared to international guidelines for texture modified meals to make them as safe as possible.
Our delicious meals are also a practical solution for those wanting to still enjoy social meals with friends and family as they can be easily cooked in a microwave or oven. Furthermore, our Level 4 Pureed meals are moulded and shaped to resemble their original appearance, ensuring that they not only taste great but look delicious too. Why not explore our ranges below?
Benefits of our Purée meals
- They’re safe – our puréed meals meet international guidelines for texture modified meals, ensuring that they meet a safe consistency for those on a Level 4 puréed diet. Despite best efforts, home-blending is often difficult to achieve the correct food consistency which can pose a greater risk of choking or aspiration. Wiltshire Farm Foods alleviates this risk by providing pre-prepared puréed meal and snack options.
- They’re easy and convenient – our dishes are less time-consuming and more convenient than home blending as no preparation is required. Simply pop a meal in the oven or microwave straight from the freezer.
- They’re tasty and nutritionally balanced – our talented chefs have worked hard to ensure that every dish prioritises nutrition, at the same time as being delicious. Don’t just take our word for it – along with our parent company, apetito, we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and our Head Chef, Phil, has won a Craft Guild of Chefs award for our Softer Foods range.
- They look appetising – each meal component is blended and moulded separately to resemble the individual components in their original form, making them more appealing and more recognisable.
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.