The holidays are a joyous time spent with friends and family – but this can be an isolating time of year for someone who has difficulty swallowing, not to mention intimidating for someone hosting a loved one who has dysphagia. For these reasons, we put together 4 tips for preparing and sharing a meal with someone who has dysphagia.
1. Find Out Your Loved One’s Food Texture Level(s)
It’s hard enough to plan a meal for any size gathering of friends and family over the holidays, let alone for a loved one who has dysphagia. Take the guesswork out of how thin or thick a dish should be and ask which level your loved one needs– it will be appreciated! Use the IDDSI food scale (iddsi.org) to help you with meal planning and test to make sure the foods are safe for your loved one with dysphagia.
2. Consider Seating Arrangements
A house full of guests often runs into the issue of not having enough seating. Regardless of how many chairs and sofas you have, you must make sure that your loved one with dysphagia has a safe place to sit during and after dinner. A safe seat includes one that allows the person with dysphagia to sit completely upright while they eat or drink.
3. Drinks Matter!
You might think that a liquid drink would not be an issue for someone with dysphagia, but it is! Luckily, it’s possible to thicken water, tea, and juice (including wine or champagne) for your loved one with dysphagia. Plan ahead so no one feels left out and you are prepared to make an appropriately thin or thick drink.
4. Make Several Dishes to Enjoy!
Cooking for someone who has dysphagia does not limit you to few a dinner options. Consider incorporating more puréed items on your regular menu, puréed potatoes or vegetables make for elegant plating. If you own or can borrow a food processor, you can make most dishes eagerly anticipated at the holidays. From Brussels sprouts to turkey or ham, a food processor can go a long way!
Happy Holidays to you and yours! We hope you enjoy every dish at any texture level with those whom you cherish.
– Seasons Care Dietitian Network