- Quiet, relaxed
- Avoid eating
when tired, upset or stressed.
- Good lighting
so that all food items can be seen.
- Avoid talking
- Sit upright
for all meals, snacks or drinks.
- Swallow with
the head tilted down so that the chin points to the chest (a pillow or
rolled towel behind the head may be helpful for keeping the head in this
- Stay seated
upright for 20-30 minutes after a meal or snack.
to find the best way to minimize head movements. Resting the elbows on
the table with the chin resting in the palm of the hands may work best.
- Eat several
(4-6) smaller meals throughout a day rather FREQUENCY than three large
- Eat slowly,
pausing between bites and sips (for some people tapping the table with
the spoon between bites helps them remember to go slower)
- Try to keep
meals 25 minutes long or less.
Size of Bite/Sip:
- Small bites
(1/2 tsp. or less) are usually easier.
find drinking from a straw easier than sipping from a cup (if a straw is
easier, consider using a flexible one-way straw; if a cup is easier, consider
using a "nosey" cup that is double handled and made of durable
- a small spoon
may help you remember this
- cut all solid
foods into small pieces
Food and Liquids:
- Soft, blended
or pureed foods are generally easier to swallow. Avoid dry, tough and stringy
liquids (honey to milk-shake consistency) are generally easier to swallow.
A commercial thickener can be purchased which allows you to thicken, any
liquid to any consistency desired.
- Avoid acidic
and spicy foods. If aspirated, these types of food are more likely to cause
- Start a food
diary to keep track of what you ate I what strategies you tried and how
easy/difficult it was to swallow.
Learn to do the Heimlich maneuver.
above are general suggestions; actual recommendations may vary from person-to-person.
Check with a speech pathologist to help in devising the best "swallowing
plan" for you or the one you are caring for.
Searle, MS, Department of Hearing and Speech
Kansas University Medical Center
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