Soft foods are prescribed as a transition diet from liquids to regular foods, typically after a gastrointestinal surgery or illness. These types of foods can also be eaten to ease difficult or painful swallowing. Foods included are restricted in fiber, fat and heavy seasonings to encourage better tolerance. Cooking methods for this type of diet include braising, stewing or steaming to create foods that are moist and easy to chew. With careful planning, a soft diet can include different selections from each of the food groups and meet your nutritional needs.
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Grains and Starches
Eat lower-fiber breads, grains and starches as part of the soft diet. Ready-to-eat or moistened cold or hot cereals can also be eaten. Refined, white starches such as biscuits, pancakes, waffles, muffins, rolls and crackers are good choices. White or low-fiber pasta and rice can be included as part of a main dish. Avoid whole-grain noodles, rice and breads -- particularly those with visible nuts and seeds.
Getting protein from meat, eggs, dairy and nut butters is encouraged as part of the soft diet. Use moist cooking methods to prepare tender beef, chicken, turkey and fish. Include eggs, other than raw or fried, on a soft diet. Smooth peanut butter and yogurt as well as mild-flavored cheeses are nonmeat protein sources that can be added to increase variety in your diet. Avoid strong-smelling meats or cheese, meats that are dry or contain bones, dried beans and chunky peanut butter or yogurt with chunks.
Add Fruits and Vegetables Cautiously
On the soft diet, fruits and vegetables need to be an easy-to-chew texture. Examples of fruits include bananas, avocados, canned peaches or pears or fruit juice without pulp. Eliminate fruits that are dried, have difficult-to-chew peels such as a pear and higher-pulp fruits or fruit juices like pineapple. A variety of cooked or canned vegetables should be part of your soft diet. Opt for choices such as mashed potatoes, steamed squash, canned carrots or shredded lettuce. Avoid broccoli, cauliflower, corn and raw vegetables.
Incorporate plenty of liquids as part of a soft diet. If you require thickened liquids, be sure the fluids you are drinking are the recommended consistency. Juice without pulp, water, milk, coffee, tea, milkshakes, carbonated beverages and nutritional supplements can all be consumed to keep you hydrated.