Improving swallow safety
- Preparing food for someone with swallowing problems can feel daunting, but it becomes easier with practice. The main challenge is making food and drinks the right thickness and texture for safer swallowing, but there are other steps you can take to improve safety of swallowing for people with dysphagia:
- Don’t rush mealtimes– eating too quickly is the main cause of coughing and choking
- Give regular verbal prompts such as “take your time”, “put your fork/spoon down between mouthfuls” and “remember to chew”
- Use a smaller spoon or fork to reduce the amount of food in each mouthful
- Only half-fill cups and glasses with liquid, to discourage drinking too much at once
- Transfer food from a serving plate onto an eating plate so only small amounts are served at a time – this helps slow down the meal and provide time for pauses and conversation
To further improve safety, there are certain foods that dysphagia patients have trouble swallowing so should be avoided. These include thin or watery liquid foods, like tea, soup, or juice, sticky foods, dry foods, like bread, potatoes, or cake, as well as nuts and seeds.