Posture for eating/drinking

It is important that you are in a good position when you eat or drink. This is to help you chew, swallow and breath well. It also means that gravity can help your food move easily through your body. If you are not in a good position when you eat or drink, it can be harder for you to chew, swallow and breath.  This can mean that you enjoy your meal less or not want to eat at all. It can also increase the chance of food going down the wrong way. 

Non-urgent advice: So what is a good position if you are in a seat or wheelchair?

 A good position might look different for different people.

 Sitting up straight at a table is the best position for eating and drinking.

•          Your feet should be on the floor.

•          Your back should be straight.

•          Your food should be in front of you.

•          Some people need the support of a chair with a back rest and arms. 

•          If you have somebody to support you, they should sit beside you.

•          This means that you can keep your neck straight.

•          It also means that they are comfortable too. 

Some people need support to stay in a good position.

This may mean that they do not eat from a dining chair.

 Whatever seat you are in, it is important that you are in a good position before you eat or drink.

•      First of all, your bottom should be well back in the seat.

•       You should be sat on your bottom and not your lower back.

•      Your feet should be on your footrest if you have one.

•      Your body should be as straight as possible.

 If your wheelchair tilts back, you need to make sure that you are upright before you eat or drink – follow your Mealtime guide if you have one.

Non-urgent advice: So what is a good position if you need to eat or drink in bed?

Sometimes people need to eat or drink in bed.

It is harder to have a good position in bed, but there are things you can do.

•        You still need to be as upright as possible.

•      Start by moving up the bed.

•        Your knees should be slightly bent if possible.

•       Use a pillow or the knee break, if your bed has one, as this will stop you sliding down.

•        Raise your upper body using pillows, a wedge, or by raising the head of your bed.

•        Your body should be as straight as possible.

•        If you are leaning to one side or the other, you may need some extra support.

•        It is important that your head is straight.

•       Your chin should be pointing forward, not down, or up.

•       Any food or drink should be offered to you from the front. 

•       This means that you do not have to turn your head.

Top Tips

  •  It is important that you feel comfortable and well-supported when you are eating and drinking 
  •  It is important that your head is level, you don’t want to be looking up, or twisted to the side
  • It is important that you stay in an upright position after eating & drinking for at least 30 mins
  • You can watch the safe and enjoyable mealtimes video for more information.