Thickened Liquids: Nectar-Thick

People who have difficulty swallowing thin liquids often must drink thickened liquids. Drinking thickened liquids can help prevent choking and stop fluid from entering the lungs.

The 3 common consistencies of thickened liquids are nectar-thick, honey-thick, and pudding-thick. Your doctor or speech therapist should tell you what consistency your liquids should be.

As a general rule:

  • Nectar-thick liquids are easily pourable and are comparable to apricot nectar or thicker cream soups.
  • Honey-thick liquids are slightly thicker, are less pourable, and drizzle from a cup or bowl.
  • Pudding-thick liquids hold their own shape. They are not pourable and are usually eaten with a spoon.

Basic Guidelines for People using Thickeners

  • All liquids must be thickened. Avoid thin liquids. Thin liquids often cause choking and are harder to swallow than thick liquids. Examples of thin liquids are water, coffee, milk, soda, broth, and soup.
  • Do not eat anything that melts, such as ice cream or ice cubes. Do not add ice cubes to thickened liquids. When the ice melts, it makes the drink too thin.
  • People who have difficulty swallowing liquids often don’t get enough daily fluids. You should drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid every day, unless your doctor restricts your fluids because of a medical condition.
  • Even though they are thickened, thick liquids are still considered part of your fluid intake. It’s important to drink enough fluid so you don’t get dehydrated.
  • Remember, it is very important to take your time eating and drinking. Stay in an upright position while drinking and for 15 to 30 minutes afterward. Talk to your doctor, speech therapist, and dietitian to help determine which foods and fluids you tolerate best.
  • You may need to avoid certain moist and juicy foods. Common examples are oranges, grapes, and watermelon. These have thin juices, which can easily enter the lungs. You also may need to avoid gelatins (like Jell-O) and scrambled eggs.
  • Ask your doctor about these foods.
  • Do not use a straw. It may cause you to choke or have trouble swallowing.
  • Commercial thickening powders can be purchased at local drug stores (ask your pharmacist) as well as from companies that make them. Brand names include Thick It, Thick n’ Easy, and Thixx.
  • You may also be able to purchase pre-thickened beverages such as juice and milk from various companies.
  • Know the best thickness for you, so you can tell when a drink is too thick or too thin. Most commercial thickeners include directions for getting the right consistency. If your brand doesn’t, use the following as a guideline:

    Nectar-thick: 1 1/2 teaspoons of commercial thickener to 1/2 cup of thin liquid

    Honey-thick: 1 1/2 tablespoons of commercial thickener to 1/2 cup thin liquid

    Pudding-thick: 2 tablespoons of commercial thickener to 1/2 cup thin liquid

  • Add the thickener to the liquid, and stir vigorously for 20 seconds. Allow the drink to sit for at least 1 to 2 minutes to get the right thickness before serving or drinking.
  • If the liquid is too thick, thin liquid can be added to reduce it to a thinner consistency. If the liquid is too thin, a small amount of thickener can be added. Do not “under thicken” liquids. It’s better to drink a liquid that is too thick than too thin.
  • When thickening hot drinks, be aware that as the beverage cools off, it tends to get thicker.
  • Carbonated drinks can be thickened. However, the drink will lose its carbonation through the stirring process.

If You Have Diabetes

Some of these recipes are made with sugary ingredients that may not be advised for patients with diabetes. When possible, a substitution is provided. If there is no substitution available, use the product sparingly (2 to 3 times per week), and always drink it with a meal or a small, high-protein snack (like peanut butter and crackers, meat, nuts, or legumes). If foods that contain sugar are eaten alone, your blood glucose (sugar) may rise too high, too quickly.

If You are Lactose Intolerant

Some of these recipes contain milk or ice cream, which may upset your stomach. Try replacing regular milk with Lactaid milk. You can also try using the Lactaid pill (follow directions on the bottle) before eating these foods.

Thickened Liquid Recipes

The recipes on page 4 were created with your convenience in mind. All of the recipes include basic ingredients and can be made at home using a blender. None of the products listed contains commercial thickening agents. Some do contain baby rice cereal in order to make the right consistency. Baby rice cereal has a neutral flavor and does not affect the taste of the final product. It is also less expensive than commercial thickening agents.

Unlike products made with commercial thickening agents, most of the products listed do not change consistency after refrigeration. So, you can make these recipes in larger quantities and store them in the refrigerator.

Some of these recipes include high-fat and high-calorie ingredients that may cause weight gain. Examples of ingredients that are high-fat and/or high-calorie are ice cream, whole or 2 percent milk, peanut butter, pudding made with whole or 2 percent milk, nutrition drinks (like Boost and Sustacal), maple syrup, and pie filling.

If you don’t want to gain weight, you can make substitutions. To reduce calories and fat, try using light versions of these foods and 1 percent or fat-free milk. You can also try decreasing portion size.

Common Thickeners

If liquids are too thin, add 1 of the following common thickeners to get the desired consistency:
  • Banana flakes
  • Cooked cereals (like cream of wheat or cream of rice)
  • Cornstarch Custard mix Gravy
  • Instant potato flakes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Plain, unflavored gelatin powder
  • Pureed fruits (baby food)
  • Pureed meats (baby food)
  • Pureed vegetables (baby food)
  • Rice cereal (baby food)
If you’re preparing a hot, milk-based liquid, you’ll find that baby rice cereal or plain, unflavored gelatin works best.
For other hot liquids (soups, sauces, and gravies), potato flakes, mashed potatoes, and flaked baby cereal are most useful.
If you’re preparing cold liquids, add plain unflavored gelatin, pureed fruits, or banana flakes for the best results.

Nectar-thick Liquid Recipes

Chocolate milk

Mix in a blender:
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate pudding (prepared) 
People with diabetes: Use sugar-free pudding.

Mixed fruit juice

Mix in a blender:
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 cup canned or fresh pineapple
  • 1/4 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
People with diabetes: Use pineapple packed in juice or water.

Maple, pumpkin, cinnamon shake

Mix in a blender:
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 of an 8-ounce can of vanilla-flavored
  • Boost or Sustacal
People with diabetes: Replace Boost or Sustacal with sugar-free CIB, and use diet maple syrup.

Chocolate, peanut butter, banana shake

Mix in a blender:
  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons baby rice cereal
  • 1/2 of an 8-ounce can of chocolate-flavoured
  • Boost or Sustacal
People with diabetes: Replace Boost or Sustacal with sugar-free Carnation Instant Breakfast (CIB).

Australian Standards for Texture Modified Foods and Fluids

The provision of thickened fluids and texture modified foods is a routine part of the assessment and management of feeding and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia).

If you need assistance with the level of fluid and food texture modification required, contact your Speech Pathologist.

To find a Speech Pathologist, go to www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au

If you require support to determine whether a textured modified diet is meeting nutrition and hydration needs, contact your dietitian.

To find an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), go to www.daa.asn.au

Thickened
Check our FAQ page for answers to other commonly asked questions about our RoseCup and NutriTaste products. Please contact us if you have any other questions we can help you with.

The RoseCup is a registered as a Class 1 Medical Device with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration TGA.
(All medical devices marketed in Australia must meet the requirements which are set out in Chapter 4 of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, and in the Therapeutic Goods (Medical Devices) Regulations 2002.)

Disclaimer - The RoseCup/NutriTaste product range is designed to help reduce the risk of aspiration in patients with dysphagia (swallowing disorders) when used according to the product guidelines and recommendations. The product range does not prevent aspiration. The website Questionnaire is designed as a guide only, to assist with product selection. It is not to be used to replace a medical diagnosis. Please see your Gp if you are experiencing difficulty swallowing or eating. Product selection and use is undertaken at the consumer's discretion and risk.

The RoseCup is a registered as a Class 1 Medical Device with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration TGA.
(All medical devices marketed in Australia must meet the requirements which are set out in Chapter 4 of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, and in the Therapeutic Goods (Medical Devices) Regulations 2002.)

Disclaimer: NutriTaste - while stocks last. We need to get the NutriTaste stock going as they have an expiry date, although it is only in a years time. We don't want to sit with expired old stock if we can prevent it.