It's easy to forget about your tongue — unless it's sore. Every bite of food or sip of liquid is potentially painful when your tongue hurts. Foods that are highly acidic, spicy or salty typically provoke the most pain when your tongue is sore. Eating foods that are soft, close to chemically neutral, low in salt and free of hot spices can help ease the pain of a sore tongue and enable you to maintain your nutrition while your tongue heals.
Milk and Milk Alternatives
Milk is a nutritious option if you have a sore tongue. It does not irritate your tongue tissues because it contains little acid and salt. Further, cow's milk has many properties similar to saliva and may help protect your tongue by reducing the concentration of naturally occurring acids in your mouth. Soy milk is also a good option because its chemical properties are close to those of cow's milk. Because cold foods are soothing to a sore tongue, try putting your glass of milk in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking it.
Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon
It's important to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet when you have a sore tongue. Cantaloupe and honeydew melons are good fruit choices when your tongue is sore because they contain low concentrations of acids. If chewing is painful, puree melon cubes in a blender or food processor to make the fruit easier to eat. Add milk or yogurt to the pureed melon to boost the nutritional and caloric content if you are having difficulty maintaining your weight.
Meat, Poultry and Eggs
Meat, poultry and eggs are naturally low in acids and contain high levels of protein, potassium, phosphorus and other important nutrients necessary for good health. During cooking, avoid adding spices that may irritate your tongue, such as salt, pepper and curry. To reduce the amount of chewing required when eating poultry or meat, stew them or puree these foods in your blender or food processor along with a small amount of low-sodium broth or gravy. When eating eggs, you may want to skip the toast, which can be irritating to the tongue because of its coarse texture. Try a soft biscuit, half of a small, untoasted bagel, or soft-cooked rice as a substitute.
Beans and Soft Vegetables
Most fresh vegetables and beans are naturally low in sodium and acids, making them nonirritating food choices when you have a sore tongue. Cooked beans are soft, require little chewing and provide protein, fiber and an array of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables with a soft texture when cooked, such as peas, potatoes, squash and spinach, are also good options. Homemade cream of vegetable soups are nutritious, flavorful foods. Allow cooked beans, vegetables or soup to cool before eating because hot foods can further irritate your tongue.
Things to Consider
Although having a sore tongue is usually a minor, transient problem, a persistently sore tongue may indicate a serious underlying medical condition or nutritional deficiency. If you develop a sore tongue without apparent cause and the condition persists, see your doctor. If your tongue begins to swell and causes difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical assistance.