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What Are the Potential Benefits of a Soft Diet?

By Jami Yontz
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A soft diet consists of foods that can be mashed, puréed, chopped, or ground in order to change the consistency so that the person does not have to chew and the food can be swallowed easily. There are a few different reasons for a person to be put on a soft food diet. People who have dysphagia, gastrointestinal tract problems, recently undergone surgery or chemotherapy, or who have had invasive dental surgery may all benefit from this type of diet.

Dysphagia is a condition making it painful or difficult for a person to swallow, and it is usually caused by another illness that weakens the muscles of the tongue, cheek, or throat. This condition can occur as the result of a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other neurological disorders. A soft diet allows a person to eat safely without the risk of choking and obtain the necessary amount of nutrients in his or her diet. Soft foods also eliminate the risk of food being caught in the esophagus and developing aspiration pneumonia from bacteria growth, stemming from the lodged food, in the lungs and throat.

Gastrointestinal tract problems can make it uncomfortable for a person to digest certain foods. A soft food diet will provide the person with nutrients, but it requires he or she to abstain from hard foods, such as raw vegetables and nuts. Physicians will prescribe a soft diet to someone who has just undergone gastric bypass procedure. This diet will allow the surgical site to heal fully before introducing whole foods into the small and large intestines.

After a surgical procedure, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments, the esophagus, mouth, and digestive tract can be sensitive to many foods. A soft diet consisting of high protein and low fat foods will provide a person with most of the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients during the recovery process. This will allow the pain, inflammation, and soreness to subside, while still allowing the person to gain enough nutrients from food sources to protect him or her from developing an infection.

After a tooth extraction, such as the removal of wisdom teeth, a dentist will recommend a diet of mashed and soft foods. The patient will be unable to chew because of the bandages and soreness in the mouth area. A dentist may also recommend this type of diet after dental implants have been put into place to ensure that the implants are able to heal properly and that there is no unnecessary pressure put on the teeth.

Soft foods include yogurt, milk, mashed potatoes, pureed cooked vegetables, and ground up meats. Smoothies made of blended fruits, yogurt, and milk are a great option for those on this restrictive diet. People will be able to eat bread, muffins, and crackers, but they should be softened with a liquid. Those on a soft food diet should avoid uncooked vegetables, cereals, fatty foods, and dried fruit.

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Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Jan 27, 2015

Whenever I have a health problem that requires me to eat a soft diet, I like to eat baby foods. They are convenient, and can be made tastier by adding seasonings when they are heated.

By Spotiche5 — On Jan 26, 2015

Every time I have dental work done, I have mouth pain for several weeks. My dentist said that it is caused by overactive nerves being aggravated during dental procedures. Through trial and error, I realized that eating a soft diet during these times helps this annoying nerve pain calm down much quicker than when I eat crunchy or hard foods.

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