Heather de la Croix is a Speech and Language Therapist with over 30 years of experience in the NHS and the private sector, during which she’s worked with thousands of people who have difficulties eating and drinking. Her aim is to help people with chewing and swallowing difficulties enjoy their meals as safely as possible. In this guide, Heather explains how to adapt your Birds Eye Soft Meals to IDDSI level 5.
Some people with swallowing or chewing difficulties may be advised by their GP or Speech and Language Therapist to follow an IDDSI level 5 diet.
The Birds Eye Soft Meals range are developed to be a suitable consistency for people at IDDSI level 7 (Easy to Chew), but they can also be adapted for IDDSI level 5 (Minced and Moist) by following just a few simple steps. The smooth texture of the meals means they’re easy to modify, and this can be done at home with no need for special tools or utensils.
What is IDDSI Level 5 (Minced and Moist)?
IDDSI level 5 is also called ‘Minced and Moist’. It should be very soft and moist, and require minimal chewing. This level is recommended for people who have difficulty chewing and moving food around in their mouth. The very small size of the particles of food will reduce the risk of choking. The moistness of the food makes it less likely to get stuck in the mouth or throat. If you scoop some up on a spoon it should fall off fairly easily if you tilt or lightly flick the spoon.
The Birds Eye Soft Meals are smooth textured, and therefore require no chewing. They have a firm quality and potentially large particle size so will require simple preparation to make them safe to eat for someone requiring IDDSI level 5. With this level of adaptation, someone will still need some ability to squash the food bolus with the tongue and move it around in the mouth.
You can find more information about IDDSI level 5 here.
Certain foods should be avoided if you are following an IDDSI level 5 diet. Your GP or Speech and Language Therapist should be able to explain this to you, and there is also information on the IDDSI website. Some of these foods (e.g. sweetcorn, green beans, tomatoes, rice) are included in the Birds Eye Soft Meals, but are safe to eat because they have been texture modified. You can, therefore, safely enjoy the flavours of these foods.
Please note: Always consult a GP or Speech and Language Therapist before making any changes to your diet and to confirm which IDDSI level you may require.
How to Adapt Your Birds Eye Soft Meals to IDDSI Level 5
Follow these steps to adapt your Birds Eye Soft Meal to a suitable consistency for for IDDSI level 5:
- Cook your meal according to the instructions on the packaging
- Place the tray on a firm surface
- Use a fork to gently mash the pieces of food. You need to break the pieces down into smaller particles, around 4mm in size (which is roughly the size of the space between the prongs of a fork)
- Mix the sauce in as you mash it to make the food more moist and easier to swallow. This helps to reduce the stickiness of the food, and so will reduce the risk of it getting stuck in the throat
- Before placing the food in your mouth, pass it through the prongs of the fork once more. It can be eaten with a spoon or a fork
- If you need to aim for small mouthfuls, a teaspoon will limit the ‘bolus’ size
Useful tip: When someone eats very slowly, food may get cold towards the latter part of the meal. You can prevent this happening by using a ‘keep warm’ plate. If the food cools down a lot, a skin may form. You will need to ensure you re-mash the food if this happens.
General safety advice
- Ensure you are sitting upright and are well supported when eating and drinking
- If you wear dentures, make sure they are well fitting and do not move around when you eat. If they are loose, you may wish to remove them for eating. Discuss this with your Healthcare Professional
- Avoid eating if you are feeling drowsy and are not fully awake/alert
- Make sure you put just one spoon or forkful of food into the mouth at a time and finish one mouthful before you have another
- Avoid talking and other distractions, such as watching TV or reading, whilst eating
- Be aware that bread is not included in this level, but can be separately assessed by your Healthcare Professional to see if any type of bread product can be managed safely
- If you are assisting someone that is eating, give plenty of time for them to clear their mouth between each mouthful. Check their mouth is clear before offering the next mouthful
- Always clean the mouth after eating to ensure any debris is cleared to reduce the risk of oral infections or aspiration/choking
I hope these tips will allow you to make mealtimes more enjoyable. If you have any further questions, please watch my tutorial videos for a step-by-step description, or kindly contact Alimento at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 083 4446.
Alimento Paid Advertisement Feature. This article was prepared by Heather de la Croix in her personal capacity and for general information purposes only. The opinions expressed are the author’s own. Alimento does not warrant that the steps as described to modify the meals to different IDDSI levels will work for everyone. Our meals are prepared and sold as IDDSI Level 7 (Easy to Chew) and you should consult a Healthcare or Medical Professional about your personal circumstances and before making any changes to your diet.