Dysphagia Meals should be safe, nutritious and enjoyable

The right nutrition has an important role to play in the survival, recovery and wellbeing of patients with dysphagia. The ideal diet should provide all the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats and fibres) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements) patients need, in the right quantities, but also at the right texture to ensure a safe swallow. Attention should also be given to drinks so that patients with dysphagia to stay well hydrated too.

Dependening on the severity of dysphagia, different changes to the consistency of foods may be necessary. A speech and Language Therapist (SLT) or other healthcare professional will determine the severity of dysphagia and the required texture modification.

Eating an enjoyable meal is everyone’s right and providing pleasure through food and drink is a priority for chefs and carers. This can be achieved by taking patients’ cultural and personal preferences into account, emphasizing the familiar aspects of a dish and by making the food and drink easy to identify. The overall presentation of food, including how it is served, also forms an important part of the dining experience as we truly do ‘eat with our eyes’. Although cooking for patients with dysphagia can require more effort than usual, when approached with empathy, enthusiasm, sensitivity and a creative attitude, it can bring real joy to mealtimes.

The Chefs’ Council is a unique partnership of experts working together to make food pleasurable for patients who have been diagnosed with swallowing difficulties – also known as dysphagia. The ultimate aim is to improve the food experience of dysphagia patients, with safe, nutritious and tasty food.

Healthcare professionals, chefs and those personally affected by dysphagia from across Europe met at the first Chefs’ Council meeting in Barcelona in 2017 and worked together to develop the Dysphagia Act and recipes to inspire and inform chefs and carers involved in dysphagia meals. It is the fundamental belief of the Council that patients with dysphagia deserve to enjoy meal times – it supports a better quality of life. No matter whether they are in hospital, a care facility or at home; tasty, good food has the power to transform patients’ lives. This conviction is central to the work of the Chefs’ Council and the development of the Dysphagia Act – a collective movement towards providing better food for patients – contributing to encouraging healthier, eating and drinking habits.

  1. Clavé P, Shaker R. Dysphagia: current reality and scope of the problem. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015;12(5):259-70.