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 6.
People with swallowing or chewing difficulties may be advised by their GP or Speech and Language Therapist to follow an IDDSI level 6 diet.
Birds Eye Soft Meals are developed to be a suitable consistency for people at IDDSI level 7 (Easy to Chew), but can also be easily adapted for those who require level 6 (Soft and Bite-size) in a few simple steps. The meals have a smooth texture which means they’re easy to modify with no need for special utensils.
What is IDDSI Level 6 (Soft and Bite-size)?
IDDSI level 6 is also called ‘Soft and Bite-size’. Food at this level should be chopped into bite-sized pieces. It should be soft, tender and moist. If you squash it with a fork, it should not regain its shape.
Food at this level needs some chewing and moving around in the mouth to prepare it for swallowing. This means that a person must have enough strength and range of movement in the muscles of the mouth to manage this.
More detail is available about IDDSI level 6 here.
Certain foods should be avoided if you are following a level 6 diet. Your Healthcare Professional 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 6
Birds Eye Soft Meals can be easily modified to fit IDDSI level 6 by chopping any large items into pieces that are smaller than 1.5cm x 1.5cm using a knife, fork or spoon.
Note: The mashed potato does not need to be chopped.
You can use a fork or spoon to eat the meal. The meals come with a good helping of tasty sauce, so you can mix or dip the timbales into the sauce to make them more moist and easier to swallow.
Useful tip: It may be helpful to give yourself a size guide. I usually find something that is the right size and use that as a guide, e.g. a thumbnail/fingernail, or the width of the fork.
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
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.