Including how food textures are described and useful cooking tips

Living with Dysphagia

Being diagnosed with dysphagia (also referred to as swallowing difficulties) can be an overwhelming feeling. From diagnosis to understanding which foods are safe to eat, we have created a guide to help, share tips and advice on living with dysphagia.

Being Diagnosed with Dysphagia

Once you are diagnosed with dysphagia, your Speech and Language Therapist may recommend that you amend your diet. This will involve modifying the textures of the food you consume, making it easier and safer for you to swallow.

Food Descriptors

The texture of food you should eat are identified via food descriptors. These are names and texture descriptions that are organised into levels. This is set by IDDSI (The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative) guidelines, which are on a continuum scale. Following your swallow tests, your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to identify the best level for you.

Foods to avoid with Dysphagia

Once you have been diagnosed with dysphagia, it’s important to avoid foods that are a high risk for anyone living with swallowing difficulties. The foods you or a loved one consumes should be prepared and made in line with the IDDSI guidelines, recommended by your Speech and Language therapist. Following these guidelines will make food safer for consumption.

 

Swallowing Safety Tips

There are a few measures you take to help ease your journey of eating with dysphagia.

  • Ensure the food you are consuming is of the right texture, recommended by your Speech therapist
  • Take small spoonfuls
  • Take regular sips of drink during your meal, please note your Speech and Language Therapist may also recommend that you modify the texture of fluids too and you should always follow their guidance.
  • Take your time and don’t rush when eating
  • Use ready meals that are pre-prepared at a texture that is right for you

Managing Dysphagia at Home – Cooking Tips

If you are cooking textured modified meals at home for any level, you should be aware that not all foods are easy to blend. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Take a look at our blog post on foods to avoid with dysphagia to see foods and ingredients you may need to avoid.
  • You may need to add water to aide the blending process but be aware of the volume of water you are adding. Whilst you need the texture to be safe first and foremost, if you are adding too much water you will be reducing the nutritional value of each mouthful. This can be a particular issue if you have a smaller appetite.
  • Check foods to ensure they are free from lumps, skins, seeds and pips that could potentially pose a threat

Weight Management

Living with swallowing difficulties can often make mealtimes challenging and sometimes result in other unwanted consequences. Dysphagia may result in a reduced appetite and could put you at risk of malnutrition.

When you are initially diagnosed with dysphagia, it may take time getting used to the new texture of food that you have been advised to eat. Identifying food that is compliant with your appropriate texture, taking the time to make the meals safe and finding what food you like can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting all the nutrition you need to help you avoid malnourishment.

With that in mind, we have specifically created our Puree Petite Range – offering smaller puree meals, that are energy dense* and full of flavour.

*Energy dense: at least 500 calories per portion. 

Our Softer Foods Range

Having won a Craft Guild of Chefs Award and Queen’s Award for Innovation, we pride ourselves on creating and delivering texture modified meals that are ideal for anyone suffering with swallowing difficulties. Our in-house Dietitian and passionate chefs work hard to create meals that have the finest ingredients, nutrition and flavour whilst being a safe texture to eat, so you get to enjoy mealtimes again

Simply pop your delicious meal in the microwave or oven and it’s ready to eat. No more home blending or washing up!

Browse our Softer Foods range for the level that’s right for you;

Level 4 Diet: These puréed dishes are a consistently smooth texture and created so you can enjoy the distinct flavours of each element.

Level 5 Diet: Requiring minimal chewing but with a more varied texture. These meals are described as minced.

Level 6 Diet: These meals feature soft and manageable pieces, accompaniments are diced or mashed for ease of enjoyment. This level is called Soft and Bite- Sized.

 

*Wiltshire Farm Foods are providing general information and are not recommending any direct healthcare practice. The information in this article should not take priority over the advice of any registered Healthcare Professional, and their advice should always be followed regarding any changes in diet, health issues or procedures.

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