Do you wake up with a sore throat every morning? Do you get cramp in your jaw and cheeks when you salivate? Having difficulty swallowing because you can’t sit up properly in bed?
Me too! It’s an awesome club to be in, am I right?
Yeah, probably not…
Anyway, here are 6 ways to eat when it’s the last thing your throat wants you to do.
1. Make food bite-sized
This one is probably obvious, but cut your food into tiny pieces so you don’t have to chew too much or get it lodged in your throat.
Furthermore, ask your “chef” to cut your sandwiches into triangles. They’re cuter that way (which always helps encourage people to eat when they aren’t really feeling it). It’s also easier to nosh down on the corners of small triangles than it is to bite into bread that’s only been halved or quartered.
2. Peel your veggies
Peel the rind off things like cucumber. The result isn’t nearly as colourful, and the slimy innards can be hard to grasp if you’re using your hands, but the softer insides of most veggies slide smoothly down your gullet. Leaving the rind intact is just asking for trouble of the choking variety.
3. Eat ice cream
Eat lots of ice cream. (I’m only half joking.) When all else fails, ice cream can soothe your throat — if only for a few minutes of sweet relief.
At the very least, it will soothe your soul. ;D
4. Stick to soft foods
Maybe this is just common sense but it took me a few years to not only learn to adapt but also to accept that I had to.
So, stick to soft foods and avoid anything with sharp edges or corners. Don’t even look at a pack of Doritos when your throat is already hurting. Fries can lodge the wrong way, too, if they’re the crispy variety.
You might not always need to avoid this stuff. I tend to cycle through symptoms so I’ll have to skip the crunchy yummies one week but I can eat a packet of crisps just fine the next.
5. Avoid acid
I’m not talking about drugs (though you should probably avoid those, too).
Tomato soup burns like the hell-fires of doom when you already have a sore or tender throat. Oddly, tomatoes themselves don’t seem to bother me, while tomato-based pasta sauces can be like swallowing shards of glass.
Citrus will probably be a big no-no, too. And vinegar. Oh my god.
6. Prop yourself up
If you can, stuff as many pillows behind and around you as possible to prop you up while you eat. It’s the only way to avoid the choking hazard that comes from swallowing while reclined.
Unfortunately, I know all too well that this isn’t always possible. The best advice I have for you in that case is to liquefy your food and drink it through a straw to minimise the risk. If you don’t want to go quite that far, you can still mush it all up so it will slide down easily.
It’s not very appetising, I know, but better a bland meal of cheesy mash and gravy than a panic attack because you got a chunk of carrot stuck in your oesophagus.
Take it slow and steady, too. Be conscious of when you swallow so you can be sure your food is going down the right pipe — and remember to breathe out when you do else you risk a severe case of hiccups!
Trial and error
Some foods will obviously be a huge no-no. Tomatoes are one of them because they’re well-known for being highly acidic, but other foods can have that effect, too. Like many of the symptoms of ME, your reaction and sensitivities will vary so I can’t tell you to avoid X, Y and Z just because they hurt me. You can only try your normal diet, keep a food diary, and figure out which ones you need to avoid.
So, what foods are on your no-no list? Is it just because of your throat, or is it because of other symptoms, too? For instance, I can only eat strawberries if I mix them with more neutral foods like melon and banana — and I can’t eat them at all after 5pm because they cause serious heartburn (but that’s another post for another day ;D).