Savorease Joins the Mission to Bring Awareness to Dysphagia
June was National Dysphagia Awareness Month and there were plenty of activities held by different associations to create awareness on swallowing disorders that affect over 15 million Americans each year.
Savorease actively participates in the community to help those with dysphagia enjoy eating through education and development of delicious, and nutritious foods to meet people's cravings and dietary needs. In June we gave a webinar on dining health with dysphagia to the ALS association, Oregon and SW Washington chapter as well as Parkinson's Resources. We are proud to be a part of The National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD) Dysphagia Awareness campaign and sponsored the NFOSD printable coloring pages. These fun pages helped to start the conversation about dysphagia within the family, no matter the age. Additionally, on July 22 we are contributing to Live Webinars with NFOSD and presenting with Dr. Samantha Shune on Transitional Foods: Updates on their Behaviors, Uses and Benefits.
What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia, might be a term not commonly heard but what it means rings true for up to 50% of Americans over 60 - difficulty swallowing. Almost everyone knows someone with this issue. Why? Because dysphagia can arise from such a wide variety of causes such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, head and neck cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS to name a few. Whether it occurs gradually or as a result of an incident, it may become a difficulty that needs to be managed for a lifetime.
How is the life of a Dysphagia patient?
Tears filled Jan's eyes as she shared her emotional journey with tonsil cancer. With a clenched throat to fight back the outpouring of emotion, she uttered with conviction: “I hated that feeding tube.” It is hard to imagine the impact losing the ability to swallow effectively has on a person. Hearing heartfelt stories of many people with this condition, led to our desire to help.
Dysphagia affects the lives of over 15 million Americans. In fact, 10 million people are evaluated each year for swallowing difficulties in the U.S. today. Our entire society revolves around food and meals. Because this disorder cuts across so many diseases, dysphagia is poorly understood and often under diagnosed. For me, my journey with this condition came from this patient’s experience. It then became my personal mission to help the countless patients and families living with dysphagia. Please join me in raising awareness for this condition during and after Dysphagia Awareness Month.
What does Food mean to us?
Food is a necessity for survival.
It gives our body energy to grow, our cells to multiply, to fully function as a human being. If food were like the fuel for a car, we would fill up, drive smoothly, and when empty, would fill up again.
But food is much more than just fuel. Our association with food is complex and deeply rooted in family history and culture.
In fact it is primal to think of food first when there is a threat in society – such as the pandemic. But in many families, food is how they show love. It can be a creative expression. It can symbolize the change of seasons. It can be tied to our religion or our beliefs. It truly is part of our identity.
Have you ever stood behind somebody at a coffeehouse and hear them use 10 adjectives before they actually use the word coffee? It’s so much more than a drink!
So why is it that with an illness such as Parkinson’s Disease where more than 80% will be affected by dysphagia leading to unwanted weight loss, food gets a new name? Nutrition.
Can we provide good nutrition and not lose out on the eating experience with the dysphagia diet? I believe we can. www.savorease.com
We don't eat Nutrition, we eat Food
Food can be quantified by protein, calories, fat, macronutrients and micronutrients.⠀
When someone has dysphagia it is important to think about maintaining weight and eating the right foods to support overall health. The swallow function may have changed for someone, but are there ways to adapt to the change and keep what we can of the eating experience familiar and make what we have to change more enjoyable? ⠀
This can be important not only for the person with dysphagia but also for the caregiver. If we understand that there is no nutrition in food not eaten. Perhaps we can increase the desire to eat with changes to the environment.
What is Dining Health?
Dining health refers to the environment we create to improve the eating experience.
Where we eat, those we eat WITH, and when we eat might be equally if not MORE important in determining HOW MUCH we eat then the actual food itself.
Another important key to dining health is creating a positive experience for the person with dysphagia and the caregiver. The reward could be the emotional gratification for both from improved food enjoyment and gaining more eating independence.
Dining health can be divided into three broad categories:
- Setting the stage
- Picking the moment
- Making it social
We will dive into each one of these categories in the next posts and give you many shareable ideas to allow everyone to enjoy having a seat at the table.