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Introduction to Resources on Altered Nutrition for persons with Dysphagia

soup(Pureed Food, Mechanically Altered, Thickened Liquids)

As a speech language pathologist working with persons with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) over the past 25 plus years, I find that I do a lot of counseling with people when their diet needs to be changed to accommodate to their difficulties.  Sometimes it is hard for those I counsel to picture how to do this in a practical, day to day basis.

The two main points I would make with regard to PUREE foods is: 1) please don’t call it baby food; 2) all you need is a blender.  One of my patients’s told me that it was easier for him to consider a puree diet when I explained that the teeth are simply the body’s blender.

If you are told by your speech language pathologist or physician that you need to be on “MECHANICALLY SOFT DIET”, this usually means that your tongue and teeth (gums and/or dentures) are working well enough to chew and compress and shape food into a ball (we call this a “bolus”) in order to propel it down the throat (pharynx).  Other names for this type of diet can include, “mechanically altered”, “dental soft”. Different facilities give this diet different names.  The main point I would make about this diet is to “think about what you could chew without teeth”.  This helps to give people a frame of reference when thinking about menus and grocery shopping. A LOT of the frozen food dinners fall into this category, including pastas and the meat dishes.

If you are told by your speech language pathologist or physician that you need to be on THICKENED LIQUIDS, this usually means that you have trouble with things that move too quickly through your throat. The thickened liquids move at a slower rate and therefore give your swallow reflex more time to “warm up” or “get ready Freddy”.

In passing, one of my all time favorite bumper stickers reads, “Visualize Whirled Peas”!

Author: Jan  C. Pryor M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S