News flash: when people experience some sort of neurological damage or decline (stroke, brain injury, ALS, etc.) one thing that can be impaired is swallowing. One way to get around this is modifying the texture of the diet and one of the most common modifications is fluid consistency modification. That means you can thicken fluids. This is a big industry and some thickened fluids are better than others. Some companies also make better modified diet options (ie. pureed) than others. As an SLP in acute care I’m often recommending that people be placed on thickened fluids or a pureed diet and because of this I always like to have a pretty good idea of what I’m asking them to eat/drink. Since switching hospitals I have started keeping a list of products offered there that I have yet to try and plan to eventually get a tray and have quite the smorgasbord for lunch one day.
Then I hit the jackpot. After work one day this week I happened to stumble upon a hall set up with all kinds of vendors with samples of various modified products. I peeked in and there was no one taking tickets or even watching the door so I figured it was for everyone and wandered inside. In the middle of tasting a pureed carrot cake (moist, the right hint of spices – could have used some icing though) the room became inundated with people. Dietician’s conference – oops. Already in the midst I decided to just keep blending in and had a great time questioning vendors about their various magic like ice cream that melts to pudding instead of thin liquid. Just to be sure that I really blended in I also sampled the chocolate tulips with fresh pineapple and mint leaf centres and the coconut curry chicken skewers. Dieticians know how to eat!
Besides that I made out like a bandit. The traditional thickened fluid flavours served up in hospitals include: cranberry juice, orange juice, apple juice and lemon flavoured water (as well as milk, meal supplements, etc). A few new flavours were on offer so I brought some sweetened tea home to try and took a few packets of instant thickened hot tea and coffee. Plus some natural vegan gelatin for good measure. ShanWow helped me with my research.
The sweetened tea is probably my favourite thickened beverage thus far. Yay for innovation! I still must continue my quest to try a magic cup (those funky ice creams) and a pureed sandwich.