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Level 2 National Dysphagia Diet

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is a level 2 National Dysphagia Diet diet?

A level 2 National Dysphagia Diet includes only moist, soft foods. Regular foods need to be changed to make them easier to chew and swallow. This can be done by blending, chopping, grinding, mashing, shredding, or cooking the food. You need to have some chewing ability to eat these foods. Your healthcare provider will tell you how long you need to follow this diet. He or she may also explain the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI). The IDDSI contains 8 levels, from the thinnest liquids and foods to the thickest. Foods from the National Dysphagia Diet level 2 diet are on IDDSI level 5. Your provider may show you how to use IDDSI guidelines to test the thickness of your food or liquid.

What do I need to know about liquids?

Your healthcare provider will tell you how thick your liquids need to be. This depends on your ability to swallow. For the IDDSI system, liquids are levels 0 through 4. Your healthcare provider will tell you if which liquids you can have. Liquids can be thickened, if needed, with thickeners, flour, cornstarch, or potato flakes. Foods that are liquid at room temperature should also be thickened. These include frozen malts, yogurt, milk shakes, eggnog, ice cream, and gelatin.

  • Thin liquids flow quickly. These liquids take little or no effort to drink. Examples include water, non-fat milk, no-pulp juice, coffee, tea, and soft drinks. The IDDSI level for these liquids is 0 (thin).
  • Slightly thick liquids are thicker than water but still flow through a bottle's nipple. A little more effort is needed to drink these liquids. The IDDSI level for these liquids is 1 (slightly thick).
  • Nectar-thick liquids have the same thickness as vegetable juices and milkshakes. It should take some effort to drink the liquid through a straw. The IDDSI level for these liquids is 2 (mildly thick).
  • Honey-thick liquids should be difficult to drink through a straw. The IDDSI level for these liquids is 3 (moderately thick).
  • Pudding-thick liquids need to be eaten with a spoon. You should not be able to drink them through a straw. The IDDSI level for these liquids is 4 (extremely thick).

How do I prepare foods?

  • Use a blender, food processor, food chopper, grinder, or potato masher to soften your food. Make the pieces ¼ inch (0.635 cm) or smaller.
  • Moisten the food by adding gravy, sauce, vegetable or fruit juice, milk, or half and half. Pour sauce or gravy over bread slices or syrup over pancakes. Allow the food to soften and dissolve.
  • Add dry milk powder to foods for extra protein and calories, if needed.
  • Cook vegetables so they are tender enough to be mashed with a fork.

Which foods can I eat?

Remember to make the pieces of any food ¼ inch (0.635 cm) or smaller.

  • Grains:
    • Soft pancakes, breads, sweet rolls, Danish pastries, and French toast with syrup or sauce
    • Soft dumplings moistened with butter or gravy
    • Cooked cereals such as oatmeal
    • Moistened dry cereal with little texture, such as corn flakes or puffed rice
    • Cakes or cookies moistened and softened with milk, coffee, or other liquid
  • Vegetables and fruits:
    • Well-cooked, boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes
    • Well-cooked vegetables
    • Drained, canned, or cooked fruits without seeds or skins
    • Ripe banana
  • Dairy products:
    • Pudding, custard, or cottage cheese
    • Ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and malts
  • Meat and other protein foods:
    • Moistened ground or tender cooked meat, poultry, and fish with gravy or sauce
    • Any casserole without rice
    • Tuna, egg, or meat salad without large chunks or hard-to-chew vegetables
    • Poached, scrambled, or soft-cooked eggs mashed with butter, margarine, sauce, or gravy
    • Tofu and well-cooked, moistened, or mashed cooked bean, peas, baked beans, and other legumes
  • Fats and oils:
    • Butter, margarine, gravy, and cream sauces
    • Mayonnaise and salad dressing
    • Cream cheese and sour cream

Which foods should I avoid?

  • Grains:
    • Very coarse cereals that contain seeds, nuts, or dried fruit
    • Rice, rice pudding, and bread pudding
  • Vegetables and fruits:
    • Raw fruits and raw, undercooked vegetables
    • Fried or French fried potatoes
    • Cooked corn and peas
    • Cooked fibrous, tough, or stringy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and asparagus
    • Pineapple, fruit with seeds, coconut, and dried fruit
  • Dairy, meat, and other foods:
    • Cheese slices and cubes
    • Dry meats and tough meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs
    • Nuts, seeds, or peanut butter
    • Hard cooked or crisp fried eggs
    • Pizza or sandwiches

What other guidelines should I follow?

  • Prepared foods can be frozen in small portions and reheated later. When you reheat foods, do not allow a tough outer crust to form on the food. This can make the food hard to swallow.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Eat 6 to 8 small meals each day to get enough calories and nutrients. You may need to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement if you do not get all the nutrients you need. Ask if you can crush these and add them to pureed food.
    Healthy Foods
  • Rinse your mouth with water after each meal. This will help to prevent infections and problems with your teeth.

Where can I find more information about the IDDSI?

You can find official information about IDDSI levels and instructions for thickness testing by going to

When should I call my doctor?

  • You cough or choke when you swallow food or liquid.
  • You think the foods or liquids on your plan are difficult to swallow.
  • You are having new or worsening problems swallowing.
  • 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 healthcare provider 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.