For people with dysphagia or swallowing difficulties, it is important to follow a modified diet in order to ensure that they are getting the nutrition and hydration they need. A modified diet is designed to reduce the risk of aspiration, which can be dangerous for someone with dysphagia. Let’s take a look at why modifying diets for those with swallowing difficulties is so important.
The Purpose of a Modified Diet
A modified diet is designed to make food easier for someone with dysphagia to swallow and digest. This means that certain foods may need to be blended, ground up, or pureed in order for them to be safely consumed. Foods are often softened or cut into small pieces as well. This makes them easier to swallow and less likely to cause choking or aspiration.
It’s also important that liquids provided in a modified diet are thickened, as thin liquids can also cause choking or aspiration. Thickening liquids help reduce the risk while still providing adequate hydration. It also makes it easier for someone with dysphagia to drink without coughing or choking on the liquid.
Nutrient Needs When Modifying Diets
When modifying diets for those with dysphagia, it’s important to make sure that the person is receiving all the necessary nutrients they need each day. This includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fluids. Depending on the individual’s needs, calorie intake may need to be adjusted as well in order to meet their nutritional needs and ensure healthy weight management. Additionally, it’s important that these modifications do not limit food variety as this can lead to nutrient deficiencies over time if not monitored closely. For this reason, it is vital as Speech Pathologists we work closely with Dieticians, to ensure nutrition isn’t compromised.
Modifying diets for those who have swallowing difficulties is an essential part of providing care and support for individuals with dysphagia or other related conditions such as stroke recovery or head/neck cancer treatment side effects. By providing them with specially prepared food and drinks that are easy for them to consume without risking aspiration, we can ensure that they are receiving all the vital nutrition their body requires each day while avoiding any potential danger from choking or aspirating thin liquids and foods. As Speech Pathologists it is important we regularly assess and manage swallowing, with support workers and coordinators an important part in helping us provide better care and support when working with individuals who have swallowing difficulties.