Dysphagia and Softer Foods: Your Questions Answered
Dysphagia, this is the medical term for any difficulty around eating, drinking and swallowing. When someone experiences dysphagia, eating and drinking can become a challenge and it can significantly impact their life.
The cause of this can be a result of any of the following health conditions:
- Structural Blockages, such as Head and Neck Cancers
- Medical treatment: Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy
- Paralysis of swallowing muscles and nerves due to Neurodegenerative Diseases - illnesses involving degeneration of certain parts of the brain, examples of this include Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s
- Missing teeth or dentition issues
- Reflux disease
When someone starts to experience swallowing difficulties, they may be seen by a Speech and Language Therapist who may carry out tests to determine the kind of dysphagia they’re experiencing and how to treat it. One of these tests is the Barium Swallow Test, this test uses X-ray’s to capture images or videos of a liquid’s journey from the mouth to the stomach. You can read more about it in our blog post here.
If their swallowing process is impaired, then a Speech and Language Therapist they may suggest switching to a texture modified that may be easier to swallow and help make mealtimes a more enjoyable experience. Dietitians may also suggest dietary changes as a form of treatment. Depending on the severity of dysphagia, dietary changes may be short or long lived.
Transitioning to a texture modified diet of softer foods can be confusing to begin with. There is a lot of information to process. You may be thinking:
What is and isn’t safe for to eat?
How do you prepare your meals to be a safe consistency?
On top of this, you may also be missing the food and textures you used to enjoy before.
Below we answered some commonly asked questions around dysphagia and our Softer Foods range from those who are either experiencing dysphagia themselves, or caring for someone else.
What is texture modified food?
These are foods that have been carefully altered to a more suitable consistency for someone who is experiencing dysphagia or chewing difficulties. This way food is more manageable and easier to chew and swallow safely. The consistency of this food will depend on what texture a Speech and Language Therapist has suggested to you. For example a liquidised diet, pureed diet, minced diet or a soft and bite-sized diet. The texture that is suggested for you is taken from IDDSI guidelines. Click here to find out more about IDDSI levels and food descriptors.
How can the Softer Foods range help?
Here at Wiltshire Farm Foods we offer a wide range of delicious Softer Foods that are suitable for those living with swallowing difficulties. We have over 80 dishes to choose from in flavours you love to help make mealtimes enjoyable every day.
Our range offers Level 4 Purée Classic meals and Purée Petite meals (where the portion size has been reduced by 40% but still energy dense, for smaller appetites). We also have Level 5 Minced Meals full of traditional favourites and also include our newly shaped dishes to. Lastly, our Level 6 Soft & Bite-Sized meals which are tender and easier to chew. As well as main meals, we have plenty of texture modified snacks and desserts to also choose from, so that you have variety throughout your day.
All of our Softer Foods are compliant with IDDSI guidelines to ensure that our food is safe to eat for those experiencing swallowing or chewing difficulties. You can find out more on IDDSI here.
Why are the meals shaped?
We believe that people eat with their eyes and having our meals resemble exactly what they are despite their texture is a great way to bring enjoyment back to mealtimes and enhance dignity when dining.
How are your meals shaped?
We have a selection of dishes in our Softer Foods range which we shape to look like their ingredients. We make these meals visually appealing by using specific techniques and state of the art technology to ensure they meet the strict guidelines set by IDDSI. This means we are able to provide peace of mind that our meals are safe and made to the right consistency for those experiencing swallowing or chewing difficulties - something that might not be guaranteed by using other techniques at home.
Are your Softer Foods dishes nutritious?
When making texture modified food at home, typically people will add water to help the blending process, diluting the nutritional value and increasing portion sizes. This can make it harder for someone with dysphagia to get the right amount of nutrition they need. Here at Wiltshire Farm Foods our in-house Dietitian ensures our meals are fortified to be nutritionally balanced, whilst our talented chefs create delicious recipes for you to enjoy whilst keeping portion size manageable.
Are your Softer Foods suitable for all ages?
Our meals have been developed with adults in mind. However, we would always recommend speaking with a Speech and Language Therapist and Dietitian to discuss whether these meals would be suitable for a younger adult or child as nutritional requirements change with age.
I have dysphagia, are there any foods I should avoid?
When living with dysphagia, it is important to ensure what you are eating is safe for consumption to avoid choking or aspiration. A Speech and Language Therapist will be able to advise what foods you should avoid depending what texture modified diet has been advised for you. You can also take a look at our blog post ‘Foods to Avoid with Dysphagia’.
How long will I need to be on a texture modified diet?
This depends on the severity and the cause of dysphagia. Swallow rehabilitation with a Speech and Language Therapist can help improve your swallowing. The same speech and language therapists will be able to recommend if and when to change your diet texture, for example moving from liquidised diet to pureed diet as your swallowing improves.
We would always recommend speaking to healthcare professionals to discuss individual circumstances
If you or a loved one is experiencing dysphagia and you want to find out more about our Softer Foods range, you can get in touch and ask your questions by filling in our ‘Contact Us’ form here.
You can also request a FREE brochure to browse all our main meals and more by clicking below.