Swallowing Problems and Holiday Dinners
I have always enjoyed planning and cooking holiday dinners for family and friends, but, I will admit, swallowing problems can overshadow the festivities.
My mother and mother-in-law also enjoyed hosting holiday dinners. When each of them were elderly and in poor health, swallowing problems became a safety issue for them at holiday meals. Everyone was mindfully watching their eating, drinking, and swallowing, just in case.
When my mother-in-law had a stroke, she had to re-learn to chew and swallow safely. In the hospital, she was given a soft-food pureed diet and liquids were served with thickener to enable her to swallow safely without choking or aspirating food into her windpipe.
My mother had a diagnostic swallowing exam, and softened foods were recommended for her. About all I knew back then about a soft food diet was to boil, mash and cut everything in small pieces. Our home health care speech pathologist taught my mother the importance of taking small sips of beverages and eating slowly. She also taught my mother some jaw exercises which helped.
So, how will you handle preparing Thanksgiving dinner for people who have swallowing problems? If you have an elderly loved one who has dysphagia, difficulty in swallowing, there is help available to help you plan meals and make them nutritious, tasty and choke-proof.
On the internet, you can find helpful advice at the website, DysphagiaSolutions.com. Laura Michael, a nutritionist with specialized training in dysphagia, gives some practical modifications and advice about common Thanksgiving dishes here in her blog. She has advice about how to puree your turkey or ham meat portion and add instant food thickener, and how to fix that green bean casserole so that both Grandpa and the grand-kids can enjoy it. See it here.
Laura Michael has videos and articles to help the cook learn how to use products and techniques for preparing softened and pureed foods. She trains caregivers and cooks to use the National Dysphagia Diet. She has written a manual, “Making Every Bite Count: Cooking for Someone with Swallowing Problems”, which contains valuable recipes, techniques and suggestions for cooking for someone with dysphagia. It is available for $29.95 which includes shipping and handling at her website. Ms. Michael is also working on a DVD cooking series to go along with the book “Making Every Bite Count”. The videos will teach you the basic techniques you need to cook for someone with dysphagia, and the videos will also be available on her website for a fee.
So, learn how to make some changes in your cooking routines for the holidays. Then, invite everyone to your holiday dinners, and relax, knowing that even those with swallowing problems can eat comfortably.
They will enjoy being at the table with their family and friends because you made a few changes to their favorite dishes just for them.