Introduction to Dysphagia (notes taken from above video)
For most people, the role of eating is much more than simply fueling the body. Eating is a social event, part of our cultural identity, an emotional response, and even a nostalgic trigger. Just think for a second about the smell of grandma’s kitchen while she was preparing your favourite meal.
Now imagine, being diagnosed with a swallowing disorder called Dysphagia, a disorder that reduces your diet to pureed foods that aim to be all the same texture and consistency.
Because Canada does not currently have a national guideline for texture-modified foods, we will refer to the National Dysphasia Diet developed by the American Dietetic Association (right). Our focus will be Level 1, for moderate to severe swallowing difficulties.
Pureed (then extruded) pasta with sauce
Frozen into a silicone mould for later use
Removed from mould
What are the characteristics of an appropriate puree for the Level 1 Dysphagia Diet?
- It should have a pudding-like consistency and hold its shape in a spoon
- It should be smooth with no lumps.
- It shouldn’t be sticky (like peanut butter)
- It can be molded…. piped…. or layered
- It won’t spread into adjacent food on the plate.
- And if you squish the top with a fork (like you might if you were flattening cookies) the prongs will make a pattern on the surface
How can we create this texture?
Most resources I’ve found recommend a blender for fruit and a food processor for anything harder. My personal recommendation is a high speed blender such as the Blendtec. This one piece of equipment can be used for anything from smoothies to grinding oatmeal into flour.
How can we easily and quickly improve the presentation of pureed food?
- Blend your ingredients separately whenever possible. As an artist I can tell you a LOT of colours add up to make brown!
- Use an ice cream scoop so the food comes out as a nice ball rather than a splat.
- Try not to let different foods touch each other on the plate, unless it’s intentionally part of the design.
- Try different serving dishes. If you’re serving food the same texture and same shape meal after meal, even a nice dessert bowl can make a difference.