Edit ModuleShow Tags

Increasing Enjoyment of Modified Texture Diets

Photo: Teplansky Photography

Eating is a multisensory experience. Texture, aroma and flavor — as well as what the food looks like on the plate — can all impact how something tastes and influence how much someone eats. Those on a modified-texture diet due to dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, should still be able to enjoy meals with their friends and family.  

A 2012 survey from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation estimated that one in 25 U.S. adults is impacted by dysphagia. With dysphagia, it takes more effort for food or fluid to move from the mouth to the stomach. It may be a temporary or chronic condition, and it also can be an indication of a serious illness.

Individuals with dysphagia may be able to tolerate some solids, while others require primarily soft or even entirely pureed food. Though these modifications can make it possible to safely meet nutritional requirements, they can also have a negative impact on the dining experience, appetite and overall health. Having to eat a pureed diet, for example, can make people feel uncomfortable having meals with others, especially if those meals aren’t visually appealing, which can lead to decreased intake and dining isolation.

Modified texture diets don’t have to be boring, though! Health care practitioners and foodservice companies are putting more effort into improving the pureed experience with molds, creative recipes and a focus on flavor. A lot of these techniques even can be utilized at home.

Jenny Overly, a registered dietitian and Director of Nutrition, Health and Wellness for food and dining management company Unidine, works with RDNs in senior living, where many residents are affected by dysphagia. As part of its Puree with a Purpose program, the company creates visually appealing pureed meals using tools like food molds, and trains chefs on methods to enhance nutrition, flavor and overall dining experience.  

She explains that because so much of our enjoyment of food is visual, the impact of more appealing pureed food has been meaningful in helping residents meet their nutritional needs and enjoy meals in a social setting. “What we see,” says Overly, “is that people start to eat more — and eat more real food — and become more comfortable. It’s exciting for us as dietitians to have actual food in our toolbox.”

Chris Greves, Unidine’s Director of Culinary for Senior Living Training and Development of Culinary Teams, says people preparing dysphagia meals at home should “think about flavor and about what you’re using to get the texture you want.” His tips include:  

Equipment Essentials:

  • Blender
  • Food processor
  • Small blender for smaller portions
  • Ricer
  • Piping bags
  • Food molds

Tips and Tricks:

  • To safely puree something like a chicken breast into a uniform texture, chop the cooked meat into pieces before throwing in the blender.
  • To preserve flavor, use broth or milk. Water that seeps into food, especially meat, can dilute the taste.
  • Use herbs and spices to season food.
  • Though gel and powder thickeners have their place, Greves recommends food-based approaches like adding crustless white bread to puree mixtures.

Whether you’re just getting acquainted with modified texture diets or simply learning to expand your repertoire, don’t be afraid to try new things. 

Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, is a dietitian and writer based in New York City, where she works with a variety of private and corporate clients and is on staff at the Hospital For Special Surgery. She writes for various media outlets and blogs at Keeping It Real Food. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Edit Module

More Stone Soup

Start Your Day with Fiber: Nutty Chocolate Couscous Breakfast Bars

Start Your Day with Fiber: Nutty Chocolate Couscous Breakfast Bars

From providing satiety and cholesterol-lowering effects to improving gut motility and blood-sugar control, fiber's positive effects are numerous.
Roasted Asparagus with Feta Cheese

Roasted Asparagus with Feta Cheese

Besides the delicious flavor combination of lemon peel and feta cheese topping the asparagus, the best part about this recipe is that it takes about 5 minutes to prep and only 10 minutes to cook!
Crack an Egg for Dinner

Crack an Egg for Dinner

I’m excited to write about eggs because I think they are a fabulous food for four distinct reasons.
5 Tips for a Guilt-Free New Year's Eve Party

5 Tips for a Guilt-Free New Year's Eve Party

We're halfway through the holidays — also known as "diet sabotage season" — and there's one major hurdle left: the New Year's Eve party!
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Advertise with Food & Nutrition
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Stone Soup

Guest bloggers from around the world share with Food & Nutrition Magazine.

About This Blog

Stone Soup is a guest blog written by members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Content — including information, recipes and views expressed — is that of the authors and does not reflect the positions or policies of Food & Nutrition Magazine or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bloggers are required to pledge they will not write for Stone Soup on topics, companies or trade organization they currently represent or have represented at any time.

Learn about our guest blogs!

Comments Policy

Food & Nutrition Magazine provides this forum to exchange ideas, opinions and contributions within a positive community. Diverse viewpoints and constructive, respectful dialogue are welcome. Rudeness, misinformation, self-promotion and abuse are not. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate this policy or our Terms & Conditions. You must include your name or be logged into a personal account on Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to comment.


Edit Module

Get Stone Soup in Your RSS

Use your RSS reader's instructions to add Stone Soup to your list:

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Stone Soup Feed »

Get Our Blogs in Your Email

Stone Soup
Student Scoop