What is the Soft Diet

The Soft Diet was designed to help those, who are on a liquid diet, transition back to a regular diet. The Soft Diet is also suggested for those who are unable to chew and/or swallow properly because of illness or dental work. The Soft Diet is also sometimes suggested for those who are having mild stomach or intestinal problems. The Soft Diet can be very useful in patients that have recently had radiation or chemotherapy to the neck, head, or stomach areas because those therapies can lead to a severely sore throat and mouth, as well as more digestive issues. The Soft Diet consists of foods that are easy to swallow and chew because of their softness. These kinds of foods can be ground, mashed, chopped, moist, and pureed.

How the Soft Diet Works

The Soft Diet limits or completely removes foods from the diet that are harder to swallow or chew. These foods include raw vegetables, fruits, tough meats, and chewy breads. If the Soft Diet is being suggested because of digestive problems, foods that are gas forming like those high in fiber, such as whole grain cereal and breads, as well as certain vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, are also limited or completely removed from the diet. Additionally, any foods that may be difficult to digest are limited or removed, such as foods that have a lot of seasoning, are spicy, or are fried and greasy.

Foods on the Soft Diet are naturally soft or they are softened by mashing or cooking. Foods that are canned or precooked to be soft, such as canned fruits and vegetables can be eaten instead of those that are dried and raw. Instead of breads and cereals that are whole grained and coarse, the Soft Diet includes those breads and cereals that are refined. The only meats that are permitted will be those that are tender and moist like fish and chicken. They can be grinded up too, but will not be needed to unless there is a serious chewing problem. Small frequent meals are suggested as well to keep down bloating and gas.

Another option is the mechanical Soft Diet that uses many machines and appliances to make food easy to swallow and chew. The main difference between the mechanical Soft Diet and the regular Soft Diet is that is does not limit or remove spices, fiber, fat, or seasonings. The important part of the mechanical Soft Diet are the foods' consistency and texture, not content. Vegetables and fruits can be cooked until they are soft or pureed. Fish, poultry, and other meats can be ground, cooked, or made moist with gravy or sauce to make them easier to swallow and chewing more comfortable. In the beginning of the mechanical Soft Diet, crackers and breads should be limited since they can be harder to swallow and chew. Any dairy product, like milk, pudding, yogurt, and custard do not have to be limited at all.

What Experts Say about the Soft Diet

The Soft Diet is continually recommended and prescribed to patients by doctors and other health experts for their patients who are suffering from several health issues. These health issues can include a difficulty in swallowing for any reason or dysphasia, when the patients have had some type of surgery on the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, or jaw. The Soft Diet is also advised for those who have just received dental work like filling, braces, or bridges. The Soft Diet is also used for patients who have been on a liquid diet before they get back on to regular foods to test their tolerance for solids. Many times there are illnesses and treatments that leave a person simply too weak to chew or swallow solid foods and a Soft Diet is recommended by their doctor.

Sample Soft Diet Meal Plan


  • ½ c. of orange juice
  • 1 c. cooked oatmeal
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 slices toast, whole wheat
  • 2 tsp. margarine or butter
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 med. Banana


  • 1 ½ c. spaghetti and marinara sauce
  • 2 pieces Italian bread
  • 1 tsp. margarine or butter
  • 1 c. applesauce
  • ½ c grape juice


  • 3 oz. chicken breast marinated and baked
  • ½ c. zucchini, grilled
  • ½ c. pasta salad
  • 1 roll, whole wheat
  • 1 tsp. margarine or butter
  • ½ c. peach cobbler
  • ½ c. milk
Last Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2011