Mealtime Partners, Inc.

Specializing in Assistive Dining and Drinking Equipment

July 2010 Independent Eating and Drinking Newsletter

Independent Eating...   is a Wonderful Thing 

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What Can the Mealtime Partner Serve?

As a change of pace in our Newsletter, this month we will answer some questions about what food can be served in the Mealtime Partner. Many illustrations of the Partner actually serving food do not specifically define what is being served, but many people believe that it can only serve a limit number of foods. When people see the Partner at conferences and expos, the food being used to demonstrate the device’s abilities are, out of necessity, non-perishable or have a long shelf life once opened. This can impact people’s perception of it's capability to handle a diverse range of foods. The Partner can serve most normal table foods as long as they are cut into the appropriate sized pieces. Additionally, it can serve all texture-controlled diets ranging from pureed to minced, or chopped.

First, it will be illustrated how the Partner is able to serve pizza, and also show how important it is to cut the food into small enough pieces to facilitate all of the food being served. Also, it  will be illustrate how using different Bowl Covers effect serving pieces of food, like pizza. Although these illustrations show pizza being served, the same principle applies to all food that is cut up in preparation for serving. Food should be cut into pieces that are around 3/8 inch cubes.

Below left is a picture of a slice of pizza cut up and ready to be served. Note that the High Bowl Cover is installed on the bowl. As shown in the picture to the right, with the High Bowl Cover on the bowl, the spoon has scooped three bite-size pieces of pizza and a piece of loose pepperoni; a second scoop (not shown) picked up four pieces of the pizza. Each spoonful may differ in quantity and, as the bowl empties, a more consistent number of pieces are usually served for each bite. If you are having trouble with the spoon not retaining any pieces when it moves from under the Bowl Cover, either the pieces of food are too big, or there is too much food in the bowl. (The Mealtime Partners bowls are designed to serve one cup of food; the top part of the bowl is used for manipulating the food so that the appropriate amount of food will be loaded onto the spoon. One should avoid overfilling the bowls to consistently get a well-rounded spoonful of food.)

Pizza Pieces Ready to ServePizza Being Served Using High Bowl Cover  

Using the Medium Bowl Cover to serve pizza (as shown below left), the spoon scoops two pieces. (With the next scoop, it picked up three pieces. As can be seen, the Medium Bowl Cover is quite suitable serving pieces of cut-up food for those who prefer a smaller bite.) With the Low Bowl Cover installed on the Mealtime Partner Bowl (shown below, right), the spoon picks up a single piece of pizza. (However, with the Low Bowl Cover, it frequently does not pick up any pizza, which is why it is usually avoided for serving cut up pieces of food.)

Pizza Being Served Using a Medium Bowl CoverPizza Being Served Using a Low Bowl Cover  

The following illustrates why three different Bowl Covers are provided with each Mealtime Partner Bowl: Low, Medium and High. The pictures below show how many M&Ms are served using each cover. The three Bowl Covers allow each user to have the size of bite that is appropriate, or preferred, for them.

M&M Being Served Using a High Bowl CoverM&M's Being Served Using a Medium Bowl CoverM&M's Being Served Using a Low Bowl Cover    

Some people who have always been fed, find that the bites are small, even when using the High Bowl Cover. This is normally because, in a quest to feed the person as quickly as possible, primarily large bites of food have been provided to the eater. Some people are fed using a dessert spoon (or table spoon) to provide the food. The Partner serves small bites to be sure it is providing a safe volume of food at each bite. When using the Mealtime Partner, there is no need to rapidly consume food. It is never in a hurry to finish a meal.

The volume of food provided for each bite is especially important for those individuals who receive a texture-controlled diet. The following illustrations show that even with soft foods (like applesauce), the volume of food on the spoon is significantly different depending upon which Bowl Cover is being used.

Applesause Being Served Using a High Bowl CoverApplesause Being Served Using a Medium Bowl CoverApplesause Being Served Using a Low Bowl Cover    

The Mealtime Partner has been designed to accommodate diverse user needs and is able to accommodate a wide variety of foods and users bite size preferences. We hope that this information is helpful. Bon Appetite! 

A Mealtime Partners Tip:

Some individuals produce excessive saliva and have difficulty controlling it as it is produced in their mouth. Saliva will sometimes flow beyond the lips. In infants this condition is called “drooling”, and is commonly associated with teething; in older people it is referred to as “sialorrhea”. For those who have problems controlling the flow of saliva it is helpful to serve sweet and salty foods alternately. Sweet foods tend to stimulate the production of saliva while savory or salty foods lessen it.

We want your feedback! If you have comments or suggestions to expand and/or clarify the information in our Newsletter articles, please feel free to email us at: Comments from our readers help us provide better, more complete information to the community that we serve.

Piecemeal Deglutination

Piecemeal deglutination is a long name for something that we all do at times while eating or drinking but are most probably not aware that we are doing it. The danger of choking or aspiration increases for those at risk when piecemeal deglutination occurs. To understand what piecemeal deglutination is in a practical sense, imagine you have just been outside on a very hot day without having water available to you. You go inside and grab a drink and take a great big mouthful of water. You then swallow the mouthful of water in several successive swallows until your mouth is empty. Because you took such a large gulp, instead of all of the liquid in your mouth being swallowed at one time, the automatic reflexes controlling the muscles of your mouth and swallowing, break the liquid down into several segments that are manageable to swallow and are swallowed one after the other.

Deglutination is defined as the act of swallowing. Liquid or food is formed into a bolus (or ball) in the mouth and is then moved from the mouth to the pharynx and esophagus to the stomach. Piecemeal deglutination is a physiological phenomenon that occurs when a bolus is too big to swallow and is broken into two or more pieces that are swallowed successively. Ertekin, et al.,1 defined 20 ml as the smallest volume of a bolus that will cause normal subjects to swallow in this way. There is risk associated with piecemeal deglutination because when we swallow several times in rapid succession the coordination of the act of swallowing becomes less and less organized, with each successive swallow. When someone swallows a single small bolus of food or liquid they are unlikely to choke, but if they rapidly swallow bolus after bolus, the risk of choking increases exponentially.

Therapists and caregivers need to understand piecemeal deglutination so that they can help reduce the likelihood of it occurring, and, therefore, reduce the risk of choking or aspiration for their clients who need aid with eating and drinking. 


Independent Drinking: Due to the great importance of proper hydration, Mealtime Partners, Inc. provides a variety of drinking systems that can meet the needs of most individuals. Most of these systems can be mounted on a wheelchair, or bed. To learn about the Mealtime Partners drinking systems, click here. Information is available to help you select the right drinking system. And, if you still have questions about selecting a drinking system, please call us at 800-996-8607. We will be pleased to assist you.

                         Remember, for most individuals, dehydration is preventable.

July 2010 Newsletter References

1. C. Ertekin, I Aydogdu, & N. Yuceyar. Piecemeal deglutination and dysphagia limit in normal subjects and in patients with swallowing disorders. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. November 1996; 61(5): 491-496.


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