What You Can Eat on a Mechanical Soft Diet

Paula Connelly/istock

A mechanical soft diet is made up of foods that are easy to chew and swallow. It's useful for people who have trouble chewing food, perhaps while learning to use dentures or after radiation therapy involving the head and neck. It may also be helpful for people who are ill and too weak to chew regular foods or are transitioning from liquid-only diets to eating regular foods.

The Basics of a Mechanical Soft Diet

For the most part, most foods can be included in a mechanical soft diet as long as they're cooked, chopped, blended, ground, or shredded.

That means you'll be able to get some fiber and protein into your diet.

The main rule is to avoid all foods that are difficult to chew, including tough meats, raw and dried fruits and vegetables, bread with a thick crust, nuts and seeds. You can eat cooked fruits and vegetables, ground meats, soft cheese and other dairy products, and softened bread and cereals. Any liquid is OK, too. Legumes are fine as long as they're cooked properly. Anything that is chopped should be smaller than 1/4 inch in size. Bread and cereals can be slurried, which means softened with some liquid before eating.

Foods Allowed on a Mechanical Soft Diet

  • All liquids
  • Yogurt
  • Soft cheese and cottage cheese
  • Sour cream and cream cheese
  • Ground cooked chicken, turkey, beef or pork
  • Eggs
  • Thinly shaved deli meats, like turkey or chicken (chopped into small pieces)
  • Tuna, egg, seafood or chicken salad (shredded or cut into small pieces) without any added raw vegetables
  • Tofu
  • Peanut butter (smooth only, no chunky peanut butter)
  • Almond or other nut butter (also smooth only)
  • Soft cooked vegetables (without seeds or skins, and chopped into small pieces)
  • Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes (without the skins)
  • Clear and creamed soups with chopped or shredded meats and vegetables
  • Soft fruits like bananas and ripe peaches
  • Applesauce or other cooked and pureed fruits
  • Jams, jellies and fruit preserves (best without seeds)
  • Cereal without nuts or dried fruits (serve with milk or soy milk and let it get soft before eating)
  • White bread and crackers (may need to be softened with liquid)
  • Cooked white rice or pasta
  • Ice cream, sherbet, sorbet or frozen yogurt (without nuts, flavored chips or other larger bits)
  • Pudding and custard
  • Plain ake and soft cookies (without nuts, chips, raisins or candies)
  • Butter or margarine
  • Gravies and sauces

Example Menu for a Mechanical Soft Diet

Here's an idea of foods you can eat on a mechanical soft diet. The amounts can be adjusted to match your appetite and calorie needs. It can be difficult to eat a healthy balanced diet, so speak to a dietitian or nutritionist if you are required to stay on a mechanical soft diet for more than a few days.

Breakfast

  • One cup fruit juice
  • One cup cooked oatmeal with sugar or honey and milk
  • One glass of water or cup of coffee

Morning Snack

  • One cup yogurt with honey
  • One cup tea

Lunch

  • One cup cooked vegetables
  • 1/2 cup tuna salad
  • One slice white bread (slurried if necessary)
  • One glass of cows milk or soy milk

Afternoon Snack

  • One cup ice cream
  • One glass of water

Dinner

  • One cup mashed potatoes
  • One cup cooked crumbled ground beef moistened with gravy
  • One glass of cows milk, soy milk or your favorite beverage

Nighttime Snack

  • One piece of cake with frosting
  • One glass of cows milk or soy milk 

You may have additional dietary restrictions, so it's best to speak with your healthcare provider about this diet, especially if you have any health conditions or specific dietary concerns.

Sources:

Maher AK. Simplified Diet Menu. Eleventh Edition, Hoboken NJ, USA: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, October 2011.

University of Toledo Health. Understanding Mechanical Soft Diets.

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Modified Diet: Mechanical Soft Diet.

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