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