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"I jumped on board with IDDSI because I’ve always believed it would reduce errors in the food served to people."

John Holahan

Image by João Silas
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  • Writer's pictureJohn Holahan

What is your Inspiration?

Inspiration. What is it? Where does it come from? For me, it’s often a winding journey of various observations and life experiences coming together. My headline for this week should be about the “official” release of our cookbook – Modern Dysphagia Cooking. However, it seems more appropriate for this medium to answer the inspiration question –

“Why would YOU write a cookbook?”.

And it’s not a straightforward answer. As I reflect on what inspired us, I see three key pieces: a parent’s frustration, a project at work, and a question that popped into my head. These three key pieces combined to show us a real need in the market:

  1. My daughter had her wisdom teeth removed a few years ago. It was a tricky situation, but ultimately it was a successful surgery. However, we were told afterward that she needed to be on a “soft, no-chew” diet for a few weeks because she could break her jaw while biting into food. And we were given a sheet of paper with some dietary examples. I tried to find some good solid guidelines and recipes online, but it all felt inadequate. I was frustrated with the lack of clear and complete information during that stressful time. (We got through it, and she’s fine today.)

  2. A few months later, we were updating our recipes at SimplyThick to meet the guidelines of the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) for our typical end-users – hospitals and nursing homes. And the team working on that project was excited about our insights to easily make great-tasting foods that meet these standards.

  3. One day, a question popped into my head – “what do people do to care for those at home on a dysphagia diet?” So, I did some research. I thought there was no great resource or reference for someone at home trying to care for a loved one on a dysphagia diet.

These three things brought some clarity to me and showed me a real need in the market. Someone had to write a complete resource incorporating the new, most up-to-date, evidence-based dietary standards directed to the person at home caring for a loved one with dysphagia.

Being an entrepreneur, my response to that observation was, “why not us?” And that is the inspiration behind our journey to the publication of what I think will be THE resource for at-home food preparation for a dysphagia diet. We added sections to help the home user understand the dietary needs, how to add calories, and how to process their family favorites to meet their loved ones’ new dietary needs. I believe this will be an amazing resource for many people for a long time! I'd love to hear about your source(s) of inspiration!



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