Soft Diet

What is a soft diet?

A soft diet is made up of foods that are soft and easy to chew and swallow. These foods may be chopped, ground, mashed, pureed, and moist. You may need to follow this diet if you have had certain types of surgery, such as head, neck, or stomach surgery. You may also need to follow this diet if you have problems with your teeth or mouth that make it hard for you to chew or swallow food. Your dietitian will tell you how to follow this diet and what consistency of liquids you may have.

How do I prepare soft food?

  • Cut food into small pieces that are ½ inch or smaller in size because they are easier to swallow.

  • Use chicken broth, beef broth, gravy, or sauces to cook or moisten meats and vegetables. Cook vegetables until they are soft enough to be mashed with a fork.

  • Use a food processor to grind or puree foods to make them easier to chew and swallow.

  • Use fruit juice to blend fruit.

  • Strain soups that have pieces of meat or vegetables that are larger than ½ inch.

Which foods should I include?

  • Breads, cereals, rice, and pasta:

    • Breads, muffins, pancakes, or waffles moistened with syrup, jelly, margarine or butter

    • Moist dry or cooked cereal

    • Macaroni, pasta, noodles, or rice

    • Saltine crackers moistened in soup or other liquid

  • Fruits and vegetables:

    • Applesauce or canned fruit without seeds or skin

    • Cooked fruits or ripe, soft peeled fruits, such as bananas, peaches, or melon

    • Soft, well-cooked vegetables without seeds or skin

  • Meat and other protein sources:

    • Poached, scrambled, or cooked eggs

    • Moist, tender meat, fish, or poultry that is ground or chopped into small pieces

    • Soups with small soft pieces of vegetables and meat

    • Tofu

    • Well-cooked, slightly mashed, moist legumes, such as baked beans

  • Dairy:

    • Cheese (in sauces or melted in other dishes), cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese

    • Milk or milk drinks, milkshakes

    • Ice cream, sherbet, or frozen yogurt without fruit or nuts

    • Yogurt (plain or with soft fruits)

  • Desserts:

    • Gelatin dessert with soft canned fruit

    • Pudding or custard

    • Fruit cobbler with soft breading or crumb mixture (no seeds or nuts), or fruit pie with soft bottom crust only

    • Soft, moist cake or cookie that has been moistened in milk, coffee, or other liquid

Which foods should I avoid?

Avoid any foods that are hard for you to chew or swallow, such as the following:

  • Starches:

    • Dry bread, toast, crackers, and cereal

    • Cereal, cake, and breads with coconut, dried fruit, nuts, and other seeds

    • Corn, potato, and tortilla chips

    • Breads with tough crusts, such as bagels, French bread, and sourdough bread

    • Popcorn

    • Taco shells

  • Vegetables:

    • Corn and peas

    • Raw, hard vegetables that cannot be mashed easily, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery

    • Crisp fried vegetables, such as potatoes

  • Fruits:

    • Raw, crisp fruits, such as apples and pears

    • Dried fruit

    • Stringy fruits, such as pineapple and mango

    • Cooked fruit with skin and seeds

  • Dairy, meats, and protein foods:

    • Yogurt or ice cream with coconut, nuts, and granola

    • Dry meats (beef jerky) and tough meats (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and bratwurst)

    • Casseroles with large chunks of meat

    • Peanut butter (creamy and crunchy)

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have questions about how to prepare or cook foods for this diet.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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