Maintaining A Healthy Diet With Dysphagia

by Ellie Johnson

in Nutrition

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Dysphagia is a condition that results in difficulty swallowing. Dysphagia is usually a side-effect of another medical condition including Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. However, it can also result from a head or neck injury and from old age.

Because it affects the ability to swallow food and drink there is a real risk that patients become dehydrated and lose weight while suffering from this condition.

It is also worrying because certain foods can be more difficult to swallow than others, that the patient will be losing out on the essential components of a nutritious diet.

Whenever you are ill, it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet so that your body is strong enough to help you deal with the illness. Without the essential vitamins and minerals, your immune system may suffer and therefore you will be at risk of contracting another illness or infection.

Your doctor will provide you with information on how you, or someone you know, can maintain a healthy diet while suffering from dysphagia. Here are some of the tips that a medical professional is likely to provide:

  • Eat healthy meals but in small portions. Psychologically, large portions of food can be daunting and might suppress the appetite. Smaller portions are more physically and mentally manageable.
  • If you are experiencing weight loss, it is important to include plenty of healthy ingredients that are high in calories. Protein in the form of eggs, meat or fish casseroles are both suitable options.
  • Vegetables and fruit are not the easiest things to eat. But it’s important not to omit them completely from your diet. The vitamins they provide are essential in order to keep the body strong and healthy. Mash or blend these ingredients where possible. For example, bananas, oranges, cucumber, berries, kale and many other ingredients can be added to a blender with plenty of liquid to make them manageable.
  • Thickening liquids are often used by dysphagia patients in order to make food and drink easier to swallow. There are a number of commercial thickening products available. If you are interested in these items, you may wish to read about Thick-It, which is one such retailer of these products. You can also use ingredients such as gelatin and tapioca to increase the thickness of solids and liquids
  • Pureed baby foods can also be added to soups and drinks in order to add more calories and nutrition to these foods.

Some dysphagia patients complain that the food that they eat does not have enough flavor. If this is the case, there are a number of recipe books specially designed for dysphagia diets that you might wish to take a look at. They include recipes that are not only nutritious but delicious too!

Dysphagia is a worrying condition because of its ability to result in dehydration and malnutrition. However, this information has shown you how you can maintain a healthy diet while suffering from this condition so that your body can stay as strong and healthy as possible.

Image from Lori Greig

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