What to Eat When You Are Struggling to Swallow

Swallowing difficulties can be caused by many factors, all of which pose the risk of dehydration and malnutrition if food and drinks are avoided. It is important to try to make food that is easy to swallow, to reduce the risk of complications and to receive necessary nutrients. If it is impossible to eat and drink, reach out for medical advice immediately. Otherwise, it may help to consider these tips when making food that needs to be easy to swallow.

5 Top Tips

It is important to remember to adopt habits into daily life to reduce pain and discomfort. When making and enjoying meals, keep these tips on board to make swallowing easier and reduce the risk of complications.

  1. Cook food so that it is moist and soft
  2. Chew food more than usual
  3. Eat slowly, small amounts often if needed
  4. Sit and remain upright whilst eating
  5. Take sips to help the food go down

Some people may benefit from a thickening powder or SimplyThick gel to improve the consistency of food and drinks for easier swallowing. It is best to discuss this treatment with a medical professional to achieve the best results.

What to Avoid

When finding it difficult to swallow, it is important to avoid making foods that will aggravate symptoms. Coarse foods that do not soften easily, sharp, and crunchy foods, spicy and acidic foods, overly hot foods, and alcohol can be known to irritate the throat and esophagus and should be avoided. These will only exacerbate the existing problems and increase the risk of complications such as choking. 

What to Choose

It might feel like all the best foods are out of reach whilst swallowing is difficult, but this is not the case. For most people, there are plenty of softer foods available to enjoy and add to the recovery meal plan.

For breakfast, there are a plethora of suitable options. Oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and cold cereal with milk to name a few breakfast favorites. For the main dish, a lot of meats may be off the menu, but chicken, tuna, egg, soups, stews, fish, tofu, and meatloaf are all contenders for a soft-cooked meal. Cheese, rice, and sweet potatoes make a nutritious side dish that is not difficult to chew and swallow. Desserts do not have to be ditched from daily life with foods like custard, pudding, ice cream, and milkshakes sure to soothe a sweet tooth. For snacks throughout the day, smoothies and yoghurts are ideal.

Making food when having trouble with swallowing can be challenging, but it is possible. Many foods can be made soft to suit these issues, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day. If the food is not difficult to break down in the mouth and pass through the esophagus, the risk of complications like choking is reduced. Foods that are known to irritate are no exception when it comes to swallowing issues and they can exacerbate symptoms. Consider choosing soft foods or adjusting the consistency, chewing extensively, and eating slowly in small amounts often to stay nourished through swallowing difficulties.

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