For those who have trouble swallowing and chewing their foods, physicians came up with soft diets for them. The two variants – soft diet and mechanically soft diet are almost similar, with only a little difference between them. In this post, let’s see the difference and the mechanical soft diet food list – what to eat and avoid.

Soft diet

A soft diet includes limiting or avoiding your intake of food that is hard to chew or swallow, along with fried, spicy, or gassy foods. Doctors recommend soft diets to people who are recovering from surgery, and solid foods need to be back in their diet, for patients with intestinal discomfort, or for patients undergoing head, neck radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.

Mechanical soft diet

This diet involves mechanically altering the food with some equipment in its texture to make it soft, i.e. by grinding, chopping, mashing, blending, cooking, or shedding the food. Doctors recommend this diet for people who are on their way to recovery from head or neck surgery, who are too weak to chew, who have dental problems, poorly or ill-fitting dentures or no teeth at all.

Equipment required

Without any equipment, it becomes next to impossible to alter the food consistency. You can use liquids in the form of water or any other juices, soups to blend or grind the food and make it softer in the texture. But before that, you might want to cut, mash or grate your food into small pieces.

Levels of thickness of solid foods

Level one – Puree

These foods have a texture like that of a pudding, meaning you cannot leave any chunks or thicker pieces of food behind. The food should feel easy to move around in the mouth without the help of teeth or tongue. You can achieve this level of consistency by adding liquids like water, milk or simple using soups or bone broth.

Level two – Foods cut to minute sizes

These foods have a thicker texture where foods cut to an at least 1/4th inch of size and should feel easy to chew and swallow with little effort. Breadcrumbs dipped in liquids, soft fruits and vegetables, scrambled eggs, soft meats in smaller bits are some of the examples.

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Level three

This level of consistency includes foods with moist, soft, bite-sized foods with more variety. However, see to it that the food is not too chunky, hard, rough, or seedy.

Allowed foods

A mechanical soft diet includes all foods that are rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats (unsaturated), fibre and vitamins & minerals along with at least eight glasses of water. The foods should be just easy to swallow and chew.

Proteins

Protein is essential for the body since it helps heal and build tissue. It becomes all the more necessary after surgery. You can have following foods in your mechanical soft diet rich in protein –

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Meats
  • Eggs or egg whites
  • Soy, milk, non-fat milk powder
  • Bean puree
  • Nut butter

Carbohydrates

Starches and sugars, also known as carbohydrates make up for half of the caloric intake in our diet. Use complex carbohydrates that are unprocessed starches since these are rich in fibre. Foods rich in carbohydrates allowed for mechanical soft diet are –

  • Whole grains – brown rice and oatmeal
  • Bread
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Vegetables such as potatoes or green peas

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Fats

Fats are rich sources of energy also making up our most caloric intake of the day. Foods allowed are:

  • Dairy
  • Meats
  • Vegetable oils
  • Olives
  • Nut butter
  • Fish oil

Fibre

The two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble – help ease your digestion. These foods are –

  • Skins of fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Seeds such as flax seeds
  • Whole grains

Vitamins & minerals

If you take enough intake of vitamins and minerals through your diet your doctor will not have to prescribe you supplements rich in these. These are present in almost everything in various proportions. You can include these in you mechanical soft diet through –

  • Bread
  • Wholegrains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy – Yoghurt
  • Meat

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Foods to avoid

A mechanical soft diet does not allow including these foods in your diet –

  • Frozen or hard fruits
  • Thick bread, biscuits
  • Raw vegetables
  • Nuts and thicker seeds
  • Fast food
  • Crispy fried foods

Nutrition value of mechanical soft diets

Since these diets usually are like other diets, the nutritional value is almost same. The only difference is that the food is grinded, blended, or mashed to make it easier for chewing and swallowing.

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Planning Your Meals

It is possible if you are going out, mechanical soft diets will not be available. So it is easier if you plan your meals beforehand, and pack them or check if your preferred restaurants or eating joints can take your special request.

NOTE: If you still have difficulty, chewing or swallowing food or you feel like throwing up or if your voice or throat feels wet, do consult your health care provider immediately.

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