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Helping people with swallowing disorders to eat, drink and be merry over Christmas

With many people having a hard time swallowing, our head of speech pathology, Jessica Smith, provides some tips to help them to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas.

Christmas meal website low res 

For people with swallowing disorders who may have problems eating or drinking, it can be difficult this time of year when traditional roasted nuts and dried fruits are often included in Christmas meals.

For most of us, we swallow 900 times a day and barely give it a second thought, including while we eat.

However, for those with a swallowing disorder, eating can be an uncomfortable daily activity – and potentially dangerous, due to the risk of choking.

It may be helpful if you include food that they may be able to manage on the Christmas menu, such as soft food like mashed potatoes, lasagna, cheese cake and fruit and nut free desserts.

It is recommended you see a speech pathologist if you think you may have a swallowing disorder.

Tips to eat safely

Below are strategies to consider to assist with eating safely:

  1. Go small - take small bites of food and small sips of liquids.
  2. Pace yourself – take one bite or sip at a time. Swallow completely before taking another bite.
  3. Be deliberate – try to swallow hard when you are eating, like you are swallowing a big pill.
  4. Eliminate distractions – focus on eating and don’t talk while chewing or swallowing.
  5. Maintain good posture – sit up for a while after eating to make sure the food goes down.
  6. Clean your mouth – after eating, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth.

For more information

Our speech pathology team helps children and adults in assessing and managing swallowing and feeding disorders. Public and private services are available. 

Email: midland.speechpath@sjog.org.au
Telephone: (08) 9462 4323

Jessica Smith Head of Speech Pathology

About the Author

Jessica Smith is head of speech pathology and has more than 10 years’ experience working in tertiary hospitals in Australia and South Africa. She has a special interest in swallowing disorders and tracheostomy disorders as well as assisting patients with neurological disorders.

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