8 Simple Tests.
The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative released their framework in 2015. It represented the best work and the best thinking of an international group of experts on dysphagia diets. The most remarkable thing to me has always been the simple practicality of the framework. It was written with end users and their caregivers in mind.
The framework itself consists of 7 different food levels (counting the subcategory of 7EC and transitional foods) and 5 beverage levels. There is a lot of great and specific information on each level in the detailed descriptions and FAQ document. But without testing methods, it would be really difficult to know if a prepared food actually meets the standards.
Fortunately, every food prepared for use within the framework can be tested with only 8 simple tests. And it uses only 3 tools – a fork, a spoon and a syringe. (And if you don’t have forks or spoons, you can use chopsticks and/or fingers). This is what I think truly separates IDDSI from anything that has come before it. The practical approach to testing. It is so simple and practical, almost anyone can learn it.
I fully understand that there are pieces of laboratory equipment that can be used to test many of the food qualities. In fact, I own some of these pieces of equipment. But they cost hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars – for each instrument. This makes them completely impractical for widespread use. Many people with dysphagia are at home. Not to mention that many pieces of laboratory equipment would not hold up to the rigors of a commercial kitchen.
I’ve had the privilege to work with the Canadian IDDSI Expert Reference Group (CIERG) over the last couple of years to support the implementation of IDDSI across Canada. Last month, I was honored to be tapped to present a hour webinar on the IDDSI test methods.
As I wrote the script and prepared the slides, it really reinforced how remarkable it is that the WHOLE diet is classified and tested with such simplicity. It really is a beautiful thing.
I encourage you to see for yourself.