By Hope Kumor
With so many diets out there, it’s difficult to choose one that works best for you. Fad diets, juicing and detoxing are a few popular ways to lose weight. But, what if you had to be on a diet due to fear of choking, without teeth or those who have Alzheimer’s Disease and it had nothing to do with losing a few pounds. There is such thing and I’ve interviewed Joanne Larsen, RD, to speak more about this Mechanical Diet.
GFGL: So, what is this mechanical diet?
Joanne Larsen: Foods are ground prior to eating due to lack of teeth, for people without teeth who cannot bite off small pieces of food with their front teeth or grind food with their back teeth before swallowing, or as a transition between pureed and regular foods. Ground foods do not need to be chewed, though they should be mixed with saliva in the mouth or other liquid foods before swallowing to increase moisture in food. Foods are ground small enough so that chewing is not necessary and all food should be moist or juicy. Dry foods like ground meat or starches are more likely to cause choking.
What does it consist of?
JL: Any food can be ground including lasagna or chinese stir fry. Casseroles or mixed dishes have more flavor than separating foods into just meat or just veggies. Solids like meat, cheese, starches, veggies, and fruits are ground before eating. Adding healthy fats like olive oil add calories for people who are underweight. Depending on the person’s chewing ability, ground meats like hamburger or turkey may not need to be ground again before eating.
Who needs to be on this diet?
People who have problems with choking like achalasia should be on a mechanical soft diet, people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease may need a ground diet if they forget to chew food and choke or pocket food in their cheeks instead of chewing then swallowing food.
How does it work?
Foods are ground before eating so that chewing is unnecessary before swallowing. If people who are on a mechanical soft diet choke on liquids like after a stroke may suffer from dysphasia, swallowing problems, then liquids can be thickened before eating.
Does one have to be on this diet forever or is it a temporary thing?
People who have had teeth removed until dentures or dental implants are placed in the mouth,people who have choking problems will need to be on a mechanical soft diet until the cause of their choking is resolved like in achalasia or dysphasia after stroke.
How is it different than other diets?
This is a consistency change from eating a regular diet of whole foods. Any food is allowed as long as it is ground first or a liquid that can be drank and not choked on during swallowing.