What are Mixed Texture Foods?
One particular hurdle that individuals with Parkinson’s disease often face is the difficulty of handling two-textured or mixed texture foods. These are foods that combine both a liquid and a solid component, like chicken noodle soup, cereal with milk, fruit cocktail in syrup, or even a succulent piece of watermelon.
So let’s explore why these mixed texture foods can be tricky for those with Parkinson’s disease and share some practical tips to make mealtime safer and more enjoyable.
The Challenge of Mixed Texture Foods
Why are mixed texture foods so challenging for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease? The key issue lies in the simultaneous management of two different textures in the mouth: chewing the solid bits and controlling the liquid portion.
For people with PD, initiating and controlling movements can be impaired, and this applies to the mouth and throat muscles as well. When both solids and liquids are introduced into the mouth at the same time, it’s akin to trying to pat your head and rub your belly simultaneously – it’s more challenging.
So, does this mean you have to bid farewell to your favorite mixed texture foods? Absolutely not! There are some simple strategies that can help you continue enjoying these delicious dishes without the added stress.
Tip #1: Divide and Conquer
To make mixed texture foods easier to manage, try this straightforward approach: alternate spoonfuls of the dish. Here’s how:
- Only the Liquid: Start by spooning just the liquid portion into your mouth, like the broth in chicken noodle soup.
- Only the Solids: After swallowing the liquid portion, take a spoonful of just the solid bits, making sure to drain off any excess liquid. This method eliminates the challenge of dealing with two different textures in your mouth at once.
By alternating between the two components, you can relish the full flavor of your favorite mixed texture foods while reducing the risk of choking or aspiration.
Tip #2: Use a Slight Chin Tuck
For added protection during meals, consider tilting your chin slightly downward when there’s food or liquid in your mouth. This technique takes advantage of gravity to keep the food bolus in the front part of your mouth, reducing the chances of premature spillage into your throat before you’re ready to swallow.
It’s important to note that this is not the same as a full “chin tuck posture” used by some individuals with swallowing issues to enhance airway closure during swallowing. The slight chin tuck is a milder adjustment that can help better control two-textured foods.
Tip #3: Pill-Taking Made Easier
Lastly, don’t forget that taking pills with water is also considered a mixed texture challenge. Many people, not just those with Parkinson’s, struggle with swallowing pills because of this reason.
An easy solution is to coat pills in either applesauce or yogurt before swallowing. This makes the pill easier to swallow, and you can always take a small sip of water afterward to ensure it goes down smoothly.
PRO TIP: Be sure never to crush or cut medications unless given the ok by your physician or pharmacist as some medications are extended release and rely on the slow gradual release of the medication for maximum effect.
Seek Out Professional Help
Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with speech language pathologist (SLP) for personalized advice on managing swallowing difficulties associated with Parkinson’s. Seek out a clinical swallowing assessment with an SLP near you.
So, there you have it – practical tips to help you navigate the challenge of mixed texture foods for those with Parkinson’s disease. By alternating textures and using a slight chin tuck when needed, you can enjoy your favorite dishes safely. And when it comes to pills, a little applesauce or yogurt can make a big difference. Bon appétit!
VIDEO RESOURCE: You can watch our 8 minute Safer Swallow Video on managing mixed textures HERE.