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What Can Your Parent Eat on a Soft Food Diet?

Apr 13, 2018 by Nancy Hmieleski, RN, BSN Director of Nursing

There are many reasons a doctor might suggest a soft food diet for a senior. One reason a senior might need to consume soft foods is because they are recovering from a surgical procedure that affected the digestive system. Or, they might have dental or oral problems that interfere with chewing and swallowing. Additionally, some medical conditions can make swallowing difficult because they interfere with the nerves or muscles involved. If your parent’s doctor has suggested a soft food diet, you might be wondering which foods they should eat.

What Is a Soft Food Diet?

A soft food diet is one that is comprised of foods that are soft or liquid. They are easy to chew and swallow. The foods in a soft food diet are cut into small pieces that make them even easier. They may be mashed, pureed, chopped, or ground. Some suggestions for preparing soft foods are:

  • Food pieces should be no larger than half an inch.
  • Put foods in a food processor to grind or puree them. 
  • Broth, gravy, or sauces can be used to moisten foods to make them easier to mash.
  • Blend fruit with fruit juice.
  • Strain soups to remove large chunks.

Foods to Eat

It can sometimes be difficult to ensure an older adult gets all the nutrients they need on a soft food diet. Try to include foods from all food groups. Here are some suggestions:

  • Grains: Pick breads that are lower in fiber. Cereals that are moist, like oatmeal. Soften muffins, pancakes, waffles, and biscuits with butter, jelly, syrup, or margarine. Cooked pasta is easy to swallow, but make sure it is cut into small pieces.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Applesauce and canned fruits are good choices. Soft fruits, like bananas and ripe melon, will also work. Cook vegetables thoroughly and remove seeds and skin. Don’t serve uncooked vegetables.
  • Proteins: Cook meats in stews or casseroles to make them very tender. Even then, make sure they are cut very small or puree them. Fish should be poached or steamed and without bones. Non-meat options include nut butters, hummus, and eggs.
  • Dairy: Avoid hard cheeses. Instead, serve cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, or cheese sauces. Choose ice cream and yogurt that is smooth, without nuts or chunks of fruit. Milk and milkshakes are also good protein sources.

Planning and preparing a soft food diet can be time consuming. If you find yourself struggling to keep up, a senior care provider can help. A senior care provider can plan meals and assist with grocery shopping. They can also cook the meals and ensure food is small enough to swallow. If your parent needs assistance eating, a senior care provider can help them to eat, too. 


If you or an elderly loved one are considering senior care in Readington Township, NJ, or the surrounding areas, call the caring professionals at Comfort Keepers of Flemington, NJ. Call today (908) 806-2220.

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