The importance of visual appeal: eating with your eyes



For many dysphagia patients, it isn’t just the physical side effects of the condition that can be debilitating. If a patient is used to normally enjoying home-cooked meals, eating texture-modified food, that one is not accustomed to, can be hard and have a negative impact on patients’ quality of life.

Becoming used to a texture-modified diet can be tough, but it is made much harder when the food that is presented to patients is blended in such a way that it is no longer visually appealing. When a roast chicken dinner, for example, goes from distinct portions of meat and vegetables to a bowl of puree, it can be off-putting for the patient and the food can fail to trigger salivation, which can impact the swallowing process. The effect of this can actually be worse for patients suffering from dysphagia due to a condition such as dementia, as it can mean they struggle to recognise the meal as food and feel even less of a urge to eat it.

By presenting food to patients that looks visually appealing, it instantly becomes more appetising and can also help dysphagia patients regain a sense of dignity while enjoying their meals. Making sure that each of the components of a meal is blended separately can help achieve this, as the meal will instantly be more recognizable and the patient will be able to choose distinct mouthfuls and enjoy a variety of flavours.

Ensuring patients look forward to mealtimes can also help healthcare professionals combat malnutrition, a common side effect of dysphagia, as patients feel less apathetic towards food and, in turn, consume more calories. Presenting meals in a way that you know you would be happy to eat can really create a positive change for patients in your care.

For further information on the different types of meals available to dysphagia patients, or to listen to a Wiltshire Farm Foods customer speaking about the experiences that she has had since switching from home-blended meals, please visit Softerfoods.co.uk or Wiltshirefarmfoods.com.

#NutritionampHydration

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