A soft diet is one where all the food is mashed, pureed, or placed in a sauce for easy swallowing. This type of diet is usually recommended after any type of jaw, throat, or digestive track surgery, as well as after the installation of new dental braces. The patient can eat a wide variety of food groups and types, but they must all have a soft texture.
When recovering from surgery, it is important to eat a balanced diet to obtain all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The five main food groups are complex carbohydrates or grains, protein, dairy, oils, fruits, and vegetables. Foods from all food groups can be incorporated into this type of diet with a little effort and planning. Some foods lend themselves easily to the diet, while others present more of a challenge.
Complex carbohydrates and grains are essential to a healthy diet, providing long term energy and aiding in digestion. Cooked cereals are great soft dishes that can be easily prepared for a soft diet. Cold cereals can be left in sit in milk for 5 to 10 minutes until they are soggy. Pasta, rice, and risotto dishes can be pureed in a blender or cooked until they are very soft.
Protein requires more creativity, as these items tend to have a more complex texture. Beans can be mashed and mixed with various sauces and creams for a tasty protein source. Minced meat-based dishes such as lasagna or meatballs can be served. Canned fish or chicken is easy to prepare and serve, while broiled or baked fish fillets are also good sources of protein and tend to be lighter to digest.
Cottage cheese, yogurt, scrambled eggs, and omelets are easy to prepare and are high in both protein and dairy. On a soft diet, fruits and vegetables are the easiest food group to convert. A wide range of fruit and vegetable juices, soups, and pureed vegetables can be quickly and easily prepared.
Keeping up a healthy appetite and regaining strength after surgery requires more than just calories. Food that is appealing to look at and taste encourages the return of an appetite and increases the enjoyment of food. It is difficult to make most soft foods look appealing, but fairly simple to make it taste good. People should use quality ingredients, avoid reduced calorie food products, and remember that fats and oils contribute a great deal towards giving food a good taste. They should use full fat milk and cream to improve the richness of the food, but avoid excess oils, as these may result in upset digestion.