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A mechanical soft diet or edentulous diet is a diet that involves only foods that are physically soft, with the goal of reducing or eliminating the need to chew the food. It is recommended for people who have difficulty chewing food, including people with some types of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), the loss of many or all teeth, surgery involving the jaw, mouth or gastrointestinal tract, and pain from recently adjusted dental braces.
A mechanical soft diet can include many or most foods if they are mashed, puréed, chopped very small, combined with sauce or gravy, or softened in liquid.
In some situations, there are additional restrictions. For example, patients who need to avoid acid reflux, such as those recovering from esophageal surgery for achalasia, are also instructed to stay away from foods that can aggravate reflux, which include ketchup and other tomato products, citrus fruits, chocolate, mint, spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Foods such as tomatoes and blackberries may be restricted because they contain small seeds.
Soft diets, particularly pureed foods, can contribute to the high prevalence of malnutrition in those with dysphagia, especially in long-term care residents. Such diets are often less palatable, and a reduction in food intake is common. Also, pureed diets are often poorer in calories, protein and micronutrients than regular diets.
Most of the foods on this diet can be both puréed and thinned with liquids to be incorporated into a full-liquid diet.
- Baked potatoes, skinless, mashed with sour cream or cream cheese
- Breakfast cereal (Cheerios, Cornflakes, Corn Pops, Corn Chex, Rice Krispies), softened in milk
- Cooked hot cereals such as oatmeal, porridge, Cream of Wheat, grits, Cream of Rice, Farina, or Weetabix
- Lasagne with extra sauce
- Macaroni & cheese, cooked soft
- Mashed potatoes and gravy
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Muffins, pancakes, or waffles, softened with syrup or butter
- Pasta cooked soft
- Potato salad, mashed
- Rice cooked soft with sauce or gravy
- Rice gruel or congee
- Baked beans
- Canned tuna or canned chicken
- Chicken salad or tuna salad
- Eggs, scrambled
- Eggs, beaten and steamed
- Enchilada pie
- Fish cooked soft
- Meat in soups, stews, or curries
- Meatloaf, meatballs, cottage pie, and other soft dishes with ground meat
- Nut butter such as peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter
- Refried beans with melted cheese, sour cream, salsa, or guacamole
- Sloppy joe
Fruits and vegetables
- Bananas, mashed if needed
- Creamed corn
- Creamed spinach
- Fruit juices
- Peeled pears or peaches, very ripe or canned
- Soup with soft-cooked vegetables
- Vegetable juices such as tomato juice or carrot juice
- Vegetables cooked soft, mashed, or pureed in the blender
- Creamed peas
- Cake softened with milk or ice cream
- Cream pies
- Fruit smoothies with milk, yogurt, soy milk, or crushed ice
- Gelatin desserts such as Jell-O
- Milkshakes and health shakes
- Pumpkin pie, key lime pie, and other soft pies
- Smooth frozen desserts such as frozen yogurt, ice cream, Italian ice, popsicles, and sherbet
- Whipped cream or whipped topping
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