September 28, 2022

As the in-person world has reopened since COVID-19, it is especially meaningful for special occasions, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Our lives are often consumed with getting together with family and friends, involving food and drinks.

But for people living with dysphagia that makes it difficult to eat and drink, there are barriers to joining in on the ritual of eating. In order to make meals a more sociable and palatable experience, food is texture modified and drinks are thickened to help with safe swallowing.  It is crucial for safety that the food and drinks are prepared to proper consistency based on the diet order.

Older adults sometimes experience losses of taste and smell related to the ageing process, disease state, medication, surgery, or environmental exposure. The deficit in these senses may impact the enjoyment and comfort of eating, therefore it is imperative that textured menu items receive the same attention to detail as it relates to quality, flavor, aromas, plate presentation, and choices.

Modified texture diets have been long standing traditional ways of providing meal service in care homes often with scoops of sometimes unrecognizable food.  The meal is always nutritionally balanced and safe as food processing has modified the texture to reduce the risk of choking.  Unfortunately, the plate is visually unappealing.

For KinVillage, creating visually appealing meals that taste great for those who require texture modified diets has resulted in shaping and re-forming the textured food into a form the resembles the original food item.  This passion for living life to the fullest is about feeding the whole persons, body and soul.

As part of the initial trial, a textured modified turkey was served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and cranberry sauce.  The reactions on the faces of the residents were astonishing as were their comments of joy and the empty plate at the end of their meal told the cooks they were onto something.  The care staff who assisted with feeding felt a sense of affirmation that a worthy investment is being made into the dietary needs of those whose dignity at meals times in paramount.

Eventually, seasonal meals were introduced along with pilot testing three meals a day and snacks of enhanced modified textured food that include piping, molds, terrines, scoops, and layering.  Food is prepared fresh in the kitchen, not prepared offsite, plated on standard dishware, unless required as an adaptive feeding device for independent feeding.  All meals are served at the right temperature with the appropriate accompaniments and are monitored to ensure consistency in quality.

A pureed turkey dinner that looks like an actual piece of turkey with cranberry sauce and chunks of vegetables on the side – Food For Thought?