The Ideal Diet for Dysphagia Depends on the Severity of Your Symptoms

pureed food for dysphagia

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  • Preparing a diet plan for your dysphagia depends on the underlying condition, as well as your current swallowing strength
  • Increase your consumption of vegetables because they are low in carbohydrates, which can help reduce the production of stomach acid

Preparing a diet plan for your dysphagia depends on the underlying condition, as well as your current swallowing strength. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created a four-level plan called the National Dysphagia Diet (NDD) to help sufferers make sound food choices despite having swallowing difficulties:1

  • Level 1: This includes foods that are pureed or smooth and don’t need chewing. Examples include yogurt, mashed potatoes, soups and pulped vegetables and meats.
  • Level 2: Foods that fall under this category need some effort to chew, such as cooked vegetables, ground meats, cheese and eggs.
  • Level 3: Foods that require more energy to chew are classified under this group. Example include meats, fruits and vegetables that are easy to cut and mash.
  • Level 4: This encompasses all typical foods. It’s also known as the Regular level.2

Your doctor will determine which NDD level is appropriate for you, plus what foods you’re allowed to eat. In general, pureeing organic whole foods is preferred because they allow you to meet your daily nutritional requirements while you receive treatment for the underlying disease.3

If You Have GERD, Focus Your Diet on Vegetables, Non-Citrus Fruits and Lean Meats

People who have gastroesophageal disease (GERD) commonly develop heartburn, which is a burning feeling in the middle of your chest. This happens when stomach acids go back up the esophagus, an organ that cannot tolerate acidity.4

To help lessen your chances of another acid reflux episode, it’s important to avoid certain foods that are known to trigger GERD. If you’re a lover of spicy meals, sidestep them entirely because the heat can cause adverse reactions in your digestive tract. Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits can cause a similar response, along with carbonated beverages.5

Increase your consumption of vegetables because they are low in carbohydrates, which can help reduce the production of stomach acid. Healthy options include green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, cucumbers and various leafy greens.6

Non-citrus fruits must also be included to promote a well-balanced diet. Bananas, apples, pears and melons are nutritious choices to consider to mitigate GERD. As for meats, make sure to choose lean cuts because the fat content can cause heartburn. Chicken, turkey, fish and other seafood can be consumed grilled, broiled, baked or poached. Lastly, healthy fats from coconuts, avocados, walnuts and olives should be added to your diet because they don’t cause problems compared to trans fats.7

Additional Tips to Help You Eat Better While Receiving Treatment for Dysphagia

People affected with dysphagia are at risk of aspiration, a condition wherein food or liquid enters your lungs by accident.8 To prevent this from happening, you need to adopt ergonomic eating habits to make sure you get your daily nutritional requirements and avoid regurgitation.

Whenever you drink or eat, make sure to sit upright with your back straight. Alternate between food and liquids to allow your esophagus to move them down quicker, and stay still for 30 minutes after your meal. If you’ve developed the symptoms of aspiration, such as excess saliva, shortness of breath, coughing and a wet-sounding voice, go to a doctor as soon as possible.9

MORE ABOUT DYSPHAGIA

Dysphagia: Introduction

What Is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia Symptoms

Dysphagia Causes

Dysphagia Treatment

Dysphagia Prevention

Dysphagia Diet

Dysphagia FAQ


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