Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid


Medical professionals often prescribe special diets to help people recover from certain medical procedures or bouts of illness.

Soft diets are commonly used in the clinical setting and include foods that are soft and easy to digest.

If you are prescribed a soft diet, you may wonder what foods you should eat and avoid and why you were put on this diet in the first place.

This article explains everything you need to know about soft food diets.

What is a soft food diet and why is it prescribed?

Soft food diets consist of soft, easily digestible foods and are prescribed to people who can’t tolerate normally textured or highly seasoned foods.

Healthcare providers commonly prescribed these diets to people with certain medical conditions or who are recovering from surgery.

Soft food diets are used in many settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and in the home. They’re typically followed for short periods of a few days to a few weeks, though some circumstances may require the diet to be followed for a longer period.

Soft diets are often used to treat swallowing disorders, collectively known as dysphagia. Dysphagia is common in older adults and those with neurological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

In 2002 the American Dietetic Association published the National Dysphagia Diet (NDD), which includes several levels of dysphagia diets:

  • NDD Level 1 — Dysphagia-Puréed: uniform texture, pudding-like, requiring very little chewing ability
  • NDD Level 2 — Dysphagia-Mechanically Altered: cohesive, moist, semisolid foods, requiring some chewing
  • NDD Level 3 — Dysphagia-Advanced: soft foods that require more chewing ability
  • Regular: all foods allowed

Although the point of texture-modified diets is to reduce the risk of aspiration and pneumonia in people with dysphagia, current research suggests that modifying food texture may result in a worsened quality of life and undernutrition, highlighting the need for more research.


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