What are Mixed Texture Foods?
If you or a loved one is living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), you may be familiar with the unique challenges it presents, especially when it comes to safely enjoying a variety of foods. One particular hurdle that individuals with PD 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. In this blog post, we’ll explore why these two-textured 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 two-textured foods? Absolutely not! There’s a simple solution that can help you continue enjoying these delicious dishes without the added stress.
The Solution: Divide and Conquer
To make two-textured 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 dishes while reducing the risk of choking or aspiration.
Additional Protection: 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.
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.
So, there you have it – practical tips to help you navigate the challenge of two-textured foods 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!
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.