Safe Foods And Tips For People With Dysphagia

For those diagnosed with dysphagia, mealtimes can signal a time of stress and anxiety. Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder that makes eating difficult and potentially dangerous even life-threatening. The person may develop a fear of eating because they are so scared of choking. There can also be a loss of excitement and joy in eating. This is why it’s important to understand the disorder and make sure you choose food that is deemed safe to eat with dysphagia.

Here is a list of safe and unsafe foods for people with a more serious form of dysphagia, along with some useful feeding tips.

Do You Have Level 1 Dysphagia?

To select the safest foods you need to know what level of dysphagia you or the person you will be feeding has. Moderate to severe dysphagia is classed as level one dysphagia and it requires a special diet plan. These are people who can have very severe swallowing issues, so giving them food that hasn’t been prepared in a particular way will be unsafe.

The other levels of dysphagia are two, three, and four. Level four allows for the most types of food with very few restrictions.

What Foods to Pick

In making your list of safe food items there is a surprising amount to choose from. It’s not so much about the item itself. Instead, it comes down to how you prepare it – the consistency.

Some of the best foods to feed someone with level one dysphagia (the most severe form) can include:

  • Pureed homemade soup
  • Pureed meats
  • Pureed bread
  • Pureed vegetables, be sure to remove any seeds
  • Homemade Souffle
  • Pureed and smooth desserts like yogurt and custard

There is a common theme with these foods and that’s the fact they are smooth and pureed. You can also look into a food thickening agent such as Simply Thick. These work to alter the consistency of food so that it isn’t too runny or too thick. The food should be able to slide down their throat without risk of aspiration.

What to Avoid?

Just as there are safe foods to choose from, there are also items that should be avoided. Foods that shouldn’t be given to someone with moderate to severe dysphagia include:

  • Non-pureed items such as soup, bread, meat, pasta, cheese, or vegetables
  • Chewy and sticky candy
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Pastries and cakes
  • Cookies
  • Cereal that has lumps in it

Make Sure the Positioning is Right for Eating

Besides choosing safe foods, it’s also important that the person with dysphagia is in the proper position for eating. They should be sitting upright so that the food can easily move down their throat. If the person tends to slump, try using pillows and a firm backed chair for extra help and support. It may also be necessary to take away any distractions in the immediate area so that all attention is on the food itself.

Bring Back the Joy in Eating

These tips can help you to find joy in eating again if you or someone you know suffers from moderate to severe dysphagia.

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