The Soft Way to Fuel for Parkinson’s Disease
Last updated: April 2022
Parkinson’s disease (PD) may make it difficult to swallow, and your diet could need texture adjustments. In PD, swallowing impairments can vary from mild to challenging.1
If difficulty swallowing does occur, it’s important to eat at the right consistency that works for you to decrease the risk of aspiration pneumonia while meeting all your nutritional needs.1
I share with my clients that eating a modified or pureed diet is not a one-way ticket to flavor-less town. So instead, we discuss how to make the most of a soft-consistency diet with these tasty options and practical tips. Check out some of the ways we’ve discovered to make the most of a soft-consistency diet.
Reduce the risk of choking
First thing’s first: Get ready to eat! When it comes to managing a swallowing impairment, safety is key. Help reduce the risk of aspiration by creating an environment that supports your needs with these must-have tips:2
Practice your posture - It’s no time to slouch! Help keep airways closed and your trachea open by sitting at a 90-degree angle during meals. Don’t hesitate to reinforce your position with a pillow or supportive chair to maintain your safety from the first bite to the last.
Focus on the food - Your favorite social media platform or television series can wait! After all, distracted eating can come with some safety risks. It may also decrease mealtime satiety, affecting intake, mood, and cravings. So, embrace the much-needed technology break and instead reconnect with your food.
Know your tolerance - How thin or thick can you handle? While some people may struggle to consume water, broth, juice, or tea, others may find it challenging to enjoy lumpy-textured foods. Stick to your abilities and adjust your meals accordingly!
Soft-consistency diet ideas
Reinvent the way you view soft-textured foods by trying these silky-smooth fuel options. Each has a balance of wholesome ingredients and feel-good nutrition to keep you feeling your best.
Yogurt dips and parfaits - Embrace your inner sweetheart or savory savant to create a flavor sensation that gets you excited about breakfast. Reinvent a classic by blending Greek yogurt with herbs, lemon juice, capers, and other seasonings. Or stick to familiar favorites by adding honey, maple, or jam!
Farina - If you can’t handle the lumpiness of oatmeal, this milled wheat can be a tasty alternative to add to your breakfast rotation. Incorporate all your must-have toppings such as fruit compote, cacao, nut butter, or sweetener to bring this blank canvas to life!
Smoothies - It’s the easiest way to get your food colors covered! Remember, Mother Nature blessed each color of plant-based foods with unique phytonutrients that help improve your health and disease management. Can you taste the rainbow?
Lunch and Dinner
Salads -Nope, not the green kind! Create smooth egg, chicken, or tuna salads to add a protein boost to your mealtime. Don’t forget to pair it with your favorite soft or pureed vegetable to add some feel-full fiber to your dish.
Soups - Fact: soups are underrated! Split pea, butternut squash, tomato. I am drooling already! But, if thinner soups are challenging to eat, add a thickening agent such as yogurt or cream, blended cannellini beans, pureed sweet or golden potatoes, arrowroot, blended whole grains, or classic cornstarch.
Gravy and mash - Why limit this tasty dish to the holiday season? It’s the perfect daily staple for people who require softer consistency foods. But don’t get it twisted; potatoes are not the only option. Instead, add some variety by experimenting with cauliflower, pumpkin, carrot, and more. For balanced nutrition in every bite, add a plant-based protein-packed punch by blending in silken tofu.
Snacks and desserts
Hummus - Spread the love to your tastebuds with different renditions of a classic favorite. Go homemade to incorporate deliciously blended add-ins such as red pepper, garlic, olives, and more!
Chocolate pudding -Yup, that’s right. This choc’ will rock your senses! Simply mix plain Greek yogurt with cacao and a hint of sweetener to create a guilt-free treat that aligns with your health goals. Cacao is abundant in quercetin, which helps fight Parkinson’s disease progression by protecting dopaminergic neurons and preventing cell death. Top with fresh berries for an additional brain-health benefit.3
Banana parfait - What better snack than the classic pairing of peanut butter and banana. Recall, nuts have tons of vitamin E - a nutrient that may help neutralize free radicals that may enable cognitive decline or neurological disease progression. Talk about a snack that fights back!4
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