The mobility problems associated with Parkinson’s can make it difficult to prepare and eat meals safely.

We’ve teamed up with Kelly Barmann, OTR/L to get her tips and advice to help people with Parkinson’s continue to cook and eat at home.

In this final article, Kelly Barmann gives us some advice on the basics for safely eating and a few tips on tremor management to get food to your mouth.

[SIDE NOTE: Chewing and swallowing problems are common in Parkinson’s and are not the topic of discussion in this article. If you are experiencing any problems chewing and swallowing, you need to consult a speech language pathologist who has specialized training in this topic. Leslie Harper, MS, CCC-SLP, a speech language pathologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham gave an in-depth interview on this topic on our website here. Please consult your neurologist for a referral to a speech language pathologist if you believe you are experiencing problems with chewing or swallowing.]

What are some of the basics for safely eating?

Set up an inviting, enjoyable and relaxing environment. Minimize distractions so no phones, TV or loud noises. Choose conversations wisely so you focus on safely chewing and swallowing. The goal is to focus on safely chewing and swallowing.

Minimizing distractions and focusing on your food is also part of mindful eating. With mindful eating, chewing slowly with minimal distractions helps you take notice of the flavors, smells, colors and textures of your food so that you enjoy your meals more. Mindfulness can help with anxiety and depression and mindful eating may also help with digestion.

Do you have any tips for how to sit at the table to eat safely?

First of all, if you are having problems chewing and swallowing, you should consult with a speech language pathologist who will work with you on the best positions for eating safely. But in general, position yourself close to the table and have any appropriate adaptive equipment nearby and ready to use. Sit up tall and put your full attention on what is in front of you. Thoroughly cut food into manageable sizes and take ample time to fully chew your food before swallowing.

What are a few tips on tremor management to get food to your mouth?

Here are a few strategies:

  • Keep your elbows close to body for optimal control
  • If you have a tremor, hold and anchor the elbow of your tremoring hand with the opposite hand
  • You can also use a book or built up cushion under your elbow to maximize stability and cope with the tremor to scoop food to your mouth


  • You can also use adaptive equipment, like non-slid placemats, scooper bowls and weighted utensils to help you eat

    Take your time. There is no rush. The goal is safely getting nourishing food to your mouth and enjoying your meal time.