Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, is a disorder that can affect people
with a variety of underlying diagnoses/conditions and can occur at any
age. Dysphagia can be a temporary or permanent disorder, depending
on the nature of the problem and should always be properly evaluated
and diagnosed by a skilled speech-language pathologist who is
knowledgeable in the field of swallowing and swallowing disorders.
When a swallowing disorder occurs, eating and drinking safely and
efficiently is a primary concern. When food items are not swallowed
properly, there is a risk for the ingested material falling into the trachea
(“windpipe”) as well as the lungs, which can lead to serious problems
including choking, infection and even death. Puree foods can be very
helpful in managing dysphagia by allowing some patients to continue to
eat safely by mouth, even when swallowing function may not be
effective enough for more regular texture foods.
Puree foods offer several benefits in the management of dysphagia.
They can be helpful for patients who have difficulty chewing and/or
manipulating food in their mouth. Puree foods can be swallowed
without requiring any chewing. Puree foods also are “cohesive” and
hold together well, making it easier for the patient to move the puree
food from the mouth to the throat.
If a patient has a weak swallow, food material may not always be
effectively cleared through the throat during a single swallow as what
normally should happen. Puree foods do not require as much “work” to
be swallowed. Whereas more regular texture foods may require more
force to swallow, puree foods may be easier to clear through the throat.
Additionally, in patients who must swallow several times to clear food
material through the throat, puree foods also do not have “pieces” or
“bits” that can fall into the airway between swallows.
Although puree foods may be an excellent option for some patients with
dysphagia, any suspected swallowing difficulty should always be
properly evaluated to ensure the safest method of nutritional intake.
As a Speech Pathologist working with primarily with head and neck
cancer patients, I have a very large number of patients struggling with
swallowing disorders following their treatment. In many cases, surgery,
radiation or a combination of these treatments can have a devastating
effect on structures critical to swallowing function. Puree diets have
allowed many patients to continue eating by mouth when they
otherwise would have significant difficulty eating regular texture foods
safely and effectively.
Despite this, puree foods can be difficult to prepare, often are not
appetizing in appearance and can be very time consuming. Additionally,
debilitated patients may have a great deal of difficulty preparing regular
meals for themselves. For these reasons, patients limited to puree diets
often choose to not eat as much by mouth or as frequently as they could.
Others do not adhere to the puree diet, placing themselves at risk for
choking and other serious complications.
Working in this field for nearly 20 years, I have sampled many puree
products designed to allow for improved convenience (and compliance)
for patients adhering to a puree diet. These items would be canned,
powdered, jarred and altogether lacking the nutritional benefits of fresh
foods. Consistent texture, especially with meat products, has also been a
long-standing issue for patients on a puree diet.
Gourmet Puréed provides my patients with a nutritionally sound
meal that is both appetizing and flavorful. Patients are able to enjoy
meals with entrees they find appealing instead of the often “single-
ingredient” puree options traditionally offered. The meals taste great
and the texture is ideal. Meats have often been an issue both in the
preparation and appeal. Gourmet Puréed meat selections have both
wonderful flavor as well as texture.
The convenience of Gourmet Puréed is one of the greatest appeals.
Having fresh meals that do not require preparation (only heating),
allows my patients to enjoy meals without time consuming and tedious
preparation. Gourmet Puréed has allowed my patients to enjoy
mealtime again, despite their swallowing difficulty. As a clinician, it
gives me peace of mind knowing my patients are complying with their
puree diet recommendation.
Katrina M. Jensen M.A., CCC-SLP
Director, Medical Speech Pathology
Fort Worth, TX