An estimated 9 million people in the United States live with difficulty swallowing, called dysphagia. People who have difficulty swallowing may have to eat a different way, modify the texture of their foods, or thicken their liquids. They may do exercises to help improve their swallow. Eating may be painful, or it may be embarrassing to eat at a restaurant or in front of other people. People with dysphagia are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia, and they also may have difficulty maintaining their body’s nutrition and hydration needs.
When it comes to modifying the texture of foods or thickening liquids for people with dysphagia, the language to describe the changes varies wildly. This results in confusion for people with dysphagia, their family members, caregivers, medical providers, and dietary staff. Inconsistent language also puts people with dysphagia at risk for their safety being compromised.
To address these challenges, a global initiative formed in 2012, called the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative. One goal of the initiative is to standardize the language used to describe food textures and liquid consistencies across all cultures, care settings, and ages. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the safety of those with dysphagia.
Large-scale implementation of these standards is expected in the United States in May 2020. Fort HealthCare has proceeded with adopting these standards, effective March 2019. Hospital dietary staff, dietitians, and speech pathologists worked closely together to test food and modify recipes to meet the standards. This information was used to develop education materials for patients in the hospital, as well as for members of our community.
Please contact a Fort HealthCare speech pathologist with any questions. We look forward to working with you to make mealtime safer and more pleasant!
A full explanation of the diet can be found in the following tab.