More than 6 million Americans have swallowing difficulties, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. If you have been diagnosed with dysphagia, a swallowing disorder, you may need to alter the texture of your diet to swallow safely. Chopped, ground, and pureed diets are frequently advised for this condition. A pureed diet, or National Dysphagia Diet Level One, is often prescribed for moderate to severe dysphagia. Do not go on a pureed food diet unless advised to do so by your doctor. Though it may help you lose weight, following any fad diet without getting to the root of your obesity problem will not lead to sustained weight loss.
Purpose and Definition
A diet of pureed foods may minimize aspiration of food into your airway. This will help to prevent complications such as choking, pulmonary problems and aspiration pneumonia, a dangerous lung infection that can lead to death. A pureed diet consists of foods with a smooth pudding-like consistency, without chunks or different textures. This diet does not require chewing.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, dysphagia may be caused by any condition that damages or weakens the nerves or muscles involved in swallowing. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association lists common signs of swallowing dysfunction. If you have dysphagia, you might cough or speak with a gurgled voice during or right after eating, and you might need extra time and effort to swallow food. This condition may require a pureed diet.
Pureed foods should be smooth, moist and easy to swallow. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends cooked cereals, such as cream of wheat. Well-cooked and pureed pastas and rice may be enjoyed. You may also consume applesauce, pureed fruits and vegetables, or well-mashed bananas. Puddings, custards, souffles and yogurt without fruit chunks are also included. Meats, beans and other protein sources must be pureed to a single consistency.
Puree foods with as little liquid as possible, advises the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Using a blender or food processor, blend foods to a single, smooth consistency with gravy, sauce, broth, fruit or vegetable juice, milk or half and half. Make bread, pancakes and French toast into a slurry, using milk or juice and a thickening agent, and keep in the refrigerator until the concoction becomes gel-like. Use potato flakes, gelatin, or commercial products to thicken foods to the desired consistency. You may also need thickeners to thicken liquids to swallow them safely. Nestle Nutrition provides commercial thickeners and recipes for pureed foods on the company’s website.
If you have dysphagia, you may work with a licensed speech-language pathologist who will help you with safe swallow techniques, recommend food and liquid textures, and provide exercises to help strengthen your swallowing. Consult a registered dietitian to help you adhere to the pureed food diet, while meeting your nutritional needs. Alternate feeding methods, such as tube feeding, are available on a short-term or long-term basis when the act of swallowing becomes too difficult to perform safely.