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Mechanical Soft Diet
What Is a Soft Diet?
A soft diet generally eliminates foods that are difficult to chew or swallow, and also spicy, fried, or gassy foods. A mechanical soft diet simply eliminates foods that are difficult to chew or swallow.
Why Should I Follow a Soft Diet?
A soft diet is often prescribed as a transitional diet following certain types of surgery or illnesses. It may also be recommended for people who are undergoing radiation therapy to the head, neck, or abdominal area. A mechanical soft diet may be prescribed if you are having trouble with chewing food, for instance due to a lack of teeth, or if you have difficulty swallowing.
Soft Diet Basics
Foods permitted on a soft diet may be naturally soft, or if not, they may be mashed, chopped, or cooked to achieve a soft consistency. Foods that are generally eliminated include:
- Tough meats
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Chewy or crispy breads
- Nuts and seeds
Depending on why you need a soft diet, your doctor may also recommend that you avoid spicy, fried, or gassy foods.
The foods that are tolerable on this diet can vary greatly from one person to the next. Work with your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine the types and textures of foods that you can tolerate. Use the below chart as a guide and then customize it to your needs.
Eating Guide for a Soft Diet
|Food Group||Foods Recommended||Foods to Avoid|
|Meats and Beans||
|Fats and Sweets||
- Use a blender to puree foods, such as soup or fruit, to a tolerable consistency.
- Remember to chew foods well before swallowing.
To preserve nutrients when cooking foods:
- Steam or microwave vegetables.
- When boiling potatoes, peel after cooking.
- Work with a dietitian to create a meal plan based on your needs.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Food and Drug Administration
Canada's Food Guide
Dietitians of Canada
Nutrition care manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org/auth.cfm?p=%2Findex.cfm%3F. Accessed November 17, 2014.
- Reviewer: Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 11/17/2014