Soft Food Diet: What To Eat & What To Avoid

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

A soft food diet eliminates foods that are high in fiber or difficult for the body to digest. This kind of diet is typically recommended during the healing process after certain medical procedures. It is unsustainable in the long-term and is usually prescribed as a temporary measure. It is important to know what you can and cannot eat if you are following this diet.

What is a Soft Food Diet?

A soft food diet is a short-term diet that includes soft, low-fiber foods, liquids, soft proteins, dairy products (if allowed), and other foods that lack any hard textures. Although the lack of fiber makes this diet unsustainable in the long term, there are many foods that you can include to satisfy the needs of this low-impact, gastrointestinal-friendly diet.

Close up of cottage cheese in a bowl on a wooden table

Cottage cheese is a viable option in a soft food diet. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

There are a number of reasons why you may begin a soft food diet, including a doctor’s advice. For instance, a soft diet is recommended in conditions like diverticulitis, dysphagia, and irritable bowel syndrome. It could also be recommended after certain medical procedures like gastrointestinal, and dental procedures or after chemotherapy. A soft diet puts less strain on the intestinal tract and helps those who have difficulty swallowing or chewing.

What to Eat?

If you need to follow a soft food diet, there are many different food types that are appropriate, including pureed fruits and vegetables, soft proteins, and various other low-fiber foods.

Fruits and Vegetables 

Tender Proteins 

Soft Cereals and Dairy

  • White rice, egg noodles, white bread, white pasta
  • Milk, yogurt, milkshakes, cheese sauce
  • Ice cream, sherbet, gelatin desserts
  • Porridge oats, biscuits and milk, saltine crackers softened in liquid
  • Pancakes, waffles, French toast (white bread)

What to Avoid?

As the name of this diet implies, you will want to avoid all hard-textured food, as well as fruits, vegetables, and grains that are high in fiber.

Hard Foods and Grains

  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts, seeds and brown rice
  • Muesli, granola, toast, crackers, bread crusts
  • Bagels, popcorn, French bread, whole-wheat or whole-grain bread
  • Tortilla chips, taco shells, potato chips
  • Chewy sweets, taffy, caramel

High-Fiber Vegetables 

High-Fiber Fruits 

  • Berries and any fruit with pips or seeds
  • Fruit skin and dried fruit
  • Fruitcakes with nuts or seeds
  • Pineapple, mango, apples, pears (raw)

Word of Caution

Due to its restrictive nature, it is not easy to derive all essential nutrients from this diet. While the list of acceptable soft foods above does include all the essential nutrients our body requires, it is harder than a regular diet to include all of these foods. Cutting out most fiber-rich food from a diet is not sustainable. Fiber helps us stay healthy, lowering cholesterol and managing blood sugar. For a few days or weeks at a time, a soft food diet may be necessary and appropriate, but it is not intended for long-term use. It should not be used for weight loss efforts. Certain conditions may demand that a person follow a soft food diet for an extended period. Speaking with a nutritionist or dietitian, in conjunction with your doctor, is recommended in such situations.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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