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Top tips - Slowing down at mealtimes

Eating and drinking too quickly can put individuals at risk of aspiration.

Part of our Top Tips series for Dysphagia management

A key role when assisting someone who has swallowing difficulties to eat is to make sure they aren’t eating too quickly. Eating and drinking too quickly can put individuals at risk of aspiration, or food going down the wrong way in to the lungs. Helping the person you care for to slow down the speed of eating and drinking can be challenging but there are a number of strategies that can be used. These include:

  • Verbal prompts such as “Take your time”, “Put your fork/spoon down between mouthfuls” and “Remember to chew”
  • Using a smaller spoon or fork to reduce the amount of food in each mouthful
  • Using weighted cutlery
  • Serving food from a serving plate onto an eating plate allows small amounts to be served at a time therefore slowing down the meal and providing time for pauses in the meal and conversation.
  • Optimising the mealtime environment – see our article on how to do this
  • Filling their cup with a small amount of fluid to prevent drinking too much in one go.

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