Tips for eating

Myasthenia gravis can weaken your lips, tongue, jaw or throat.

Try these ideas if myasthenia makes swallowing difficult.

To reduce residue in your throat:

  • Moisten solid foods with gravy, sauce, broth, butter, mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt.
  • Choose chicken or fish instead of tougher meats.
  • Avoid dry crumbly food such as crackers, rice, cookies, nuts, chips or popcorn.
  • Avoid bread products such as sandwiches, bagels and muffins.
  • Focus on the swallow. Hold your head in a different position to try a different swallow pathway.

To reduce fatigue:

  • Eat several small meals during the day.
  • Chop or mince solid foods (like meat).
  • Eat your largest meal earlier in the day when you have more energy.
  • Take anticholinesterase medication (for example, Mestinon) shortly before mealtimes.

To reduce the risk of food accidentally going into your lungs (called “aspiration”):

  • Thicken all fluids to the consistency recommended by your doctor or speech pathologist.
  • Remember that ice cream and popsicles melt into a thin fluid in your mouth, and that once you chew fruits, the juice released is also a thin liquid.
  • Be careful swallowing mixed-consistency foods, for example, cereal with milk, soups (like chicken noodle or vegetable), and fruit salad mixed in juices.

To reduce nasal regurgitation:

  • Limit each swallow to half a teaspoon.
  • Sit upright and don’t tilt your head forward when swallowing.

Easier Chewing

Egg salad, canned salmon and fruit smoothies can deliver nutrients in a manageable consistency. Check your library or book store for “soft diet” recipe books.

Hear from an Expert

Watch Dr. Lee Akst on our YouTube channel

Reviewed by the MGF of Illinois Medical Advisory Board, February 2015.
This information was abstracted from “Myasthenia Gravis and Swallowing Difficulty,” by Angela Colton-Hudson, M. CL Sc., Speech Language Pathologist, University Campus, London Health Science Chapter, published in Conquer newsletter, MGF of Illinois, April 2006.