July 25, 2023

Chews-Day’s story: New easy to chew diet for patients

A new ‘easy to chew diet’ will soon come into play for Northern Health patients.

The easy to chew diet consists of normal, everyday foods of a soft and tender texture, of any shape or size. Patients should be able to bite off pieces of soft and tender food and choose bite-sizes that are safe to chew and swallow.

Currently, staff use the ‘soft dental diet’ code which includes hard dry biscuits, toast and bread. With the easy to chew diet, multigrain bread, hard dry biscuits and toast will be removed, making way for soft cakes, soft bread – including white and wholemeal bread – and sandwiches with soft bread and soft fillings. Raw vegetables are also not included in the easy to chew diet.

Jasmine Wong, Speech Pathologist, said the Speech Pathology department reviewed recommendations from the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation for patients on an easy to chew diet.

“Easy to chew food may be used if you have a strong enough chewing ability to break down soft and tender foods into pieces without help, you have no increased risk of choking and do not have swallowing problems,” she said.

“This texture may be right for you if you usually choose to eat soft food, have weaker chewing muscles for hard and firm textures, but can chew soft and tender food without tiring easily.”

“It may also be a good choice if you have been sick and are recovering strength.”

The new easy to chew terminology is in the process of being implemented internationally to maintain consistence of diet recommendations across health settings. Northern Health will start using the easy to chew diet terminology in line with the EMR go live date of 4 September.

Featured image: Jasmine, Speech Pathologist, Lauren, Speech Pathology Allied Health Assistant and Joyce, Speech Pathologist.