Swallowing. Ataxia diet #4

It might seem that how we eat does not matter much, but it does. Especially with ataxia. What we eat is very important.

Swallowing problems are not uncommon in ataxia. But there is a lot you can do to help yourself.

1. Identify the foods and the type of food that is bad for your throat

For many people these are either thin drinks (like water) or dry food (like a dry cake). In my case these are spices – pepper, chilli, or dry sprinkles – made of cinnamon, cocoa or powdered sugar. My mom had trouble eating cold food.

There is a special type of test that can be done to help you with this: 'Bolus Specifity Quiz’

2. Check the position of the head

It turns out that the position in which we eat may affect the swallowing of food. To check it, you need the help of specialists who will do the appropriate research. Knowing what our swallowing process looks like can help a lot.

3. Don’t lie down after eating

I found this medical recommendation, apparently lying down after a meal may worsen swallowing.

4. Eat slowly

It is also a medical recommendation and this is what I have been practicing for a long time – I eat slowly, in front of the table, in a straight position, without any distractions. Watching something while eating exacerbates my eating problems.

5. Strengthen your jaw muscles

Swallowing problems may also result from the fact that, as ataxians, we have impaired muscle tone in the jaw. It turns out that strengthening the jaw may make it easier. I wrote a post earlier about what I do every day, and there are several methods to improve my jaw strength. For example, every day I drink through a twisted straw, read aloud and do articulation exercises together with a jaw massage. And it really helps!

6. Modify your meals

Earlier, there was a fragment about identifying what bothers us. And although it seems obvious, I will mention it – if we are sensitive to temperature, food can be heated. If for spices, they can be removed or added in a different order (do not sprinkle the dish on top). There are also special meal thickeners. I don’t use them, but they exist. Dry food can be consumed together with plenty of water. I always have a glass of water with me during a meal.

Look at this picture! If I eat like this, I would cough hard after a few seconds… 😉

Remember that I am not a doctor! All the advice here is informal and if you have any difficulties talk to your doctor. I write what I think and what I discovered myself, reading different things and listening to different people.

Whenever it is possible, I give scientific sources of my knowledge. It is no different now. I learned a lot from this publication:

Read Dr. Susan Perlman’s book, „Nutrition and the Patient with Progressive Central Nervous System Disease: A Manual for Patients and their Families” at the link: http://bit.ly/2PWdtsb

Remember to watch that video – it is super important

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