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Presenting Texture-Modified Foods

aged care diet dysphagia food service health nutrition Dec 06, 2022

Our nutritional needs change as we age but that doesn’t mean the presentation of meals needs to be compromised. If a meal has an appetising smell and appearance, we are more likely to feel excitement around mealtimes.  

The importance of presentation 
Food presentation is the key to pulling our five senses together into the eating experience. Two plates of food could be placed in front of us, and naturally, we will choose the more visually appealing plate every time.  

When feeding aged care residents presentation matters. How one perceives the meal placed in front of them will hinder their likelihood to both eat the food and enjoy the experience of their daily mealtime. From colours to contrasts and texture it all matters when placed on the plate together.  

Taking the extra step to present the food appealingly will help to increase meal satisfaction and nutritional intake, particularly for those who require texture modified diets. If the food looks good, it will ultimately be more desirable to the eye. It is recommended that you create a strategy to increase the resident's food intake to ensure they are receiving the necessary nutrition. 

Food presentation techniques 
In aged care, a little goes a long way. Mealtime is often a daily ritual, so it's important to create dishes that residents look forward to. There are simple ideas with zero additional costs and time that can result in a texture modified meal being more appealing to the eye.  

Four points to improve the visual appeal of pureed and texture modified foods include: 

  1. Contrast 
    Keeping colours consistent with the resident's understanding of each element is key. Carrots are orange, peas are green. Contrast can work against the plate too; a light-coloured plate will help make the food stand out and vice versa.    

  2. Layering 
    Applying layers to texture modified foods can add excitement to the plate. For example, in Shepherd's Pie; potato, meat and cheese. This can then be sliced into individual portion sizes.    

  3. Adding Height  
    Consider switching up the use of scoops for a standard piping bag to help add both shape and height to the dish.    

  4. Shape  
    Recognition is the key part of texture modified food. The use of food moulds to form pureed and minced foods into shapes means residents can easily identify what they are eating.  

    The importance of nutritional requirements being met cannot be overstated for the overall health of residents. With up to 30% of aged care residents experiencing some degree of malnutrition, it is vital to provide meals that look familiar to what they have eaten before.   

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