Mechanical Soft Diet
What is a mechanical soft diet?
This diet is designed for people who have trouble chewing and swallowing. Chopped, ground
and pureed foods are included in this diet, as well as foods that readily break apart without a
Why is this diet safer for me?
The foods in this diet are easy to eat and do not need a lot of chewing to swallow safely.
This diet is helpful if you are missing teeth or have just had surgery and are not able to chew
hard foods. This diet does include soft breads and rice, so it is important that you are able to
move food in your mouth and are able to swallow safely.
Food Groups Safe Foods Avoid
Milk Products Smooth or fruited yogurt
Soft sliced cheese
Hard cheese cubes and
Yogurt with nuts or
Meat and Protein Ground cooked meat and
Baked, poached or broiled
Casseroles with ground or
1/4 inch diced meat
Sandwiches with soft
Shaved deli turkey or ham
Tuna salad or egg salad
without celery or raw
Well cooked, moistened
and mashed dried beans,
peas and legumes
Diced meatloaf and
Thick cold cuts
Large chunks of cheese
Casseroles with large
chunks of meat
Entire pieces of meat
Chili with beans
Crisp fried eggs
Vegetables Soft cooked vegetables
that can easily be mashed
with a fork
Legumes, potatoes without
skins, and squash
Minced 1/8 or Diced ¼
inch vegetables (you may
find that some do not
Stir fried or lightly cooked
vegetables that are still
Crispy French fries, crispy
hash browns or fried
Food Groups Safe Foods Avoid
Fruits Applesauce or other pureed fruit
Drained canned fruits (unless you are
allowed thin liquids)
Soft, fresh fruits such as peaches,
nectarines without skin, melon, and
Cooked fruit, mashed or diced
Canned fruit with
juice or syrup unless
allowed to drink thin
Fruit with skins and
Cream of Wheat®, Cream of Rice®,
oatmeal, Malt-o-Meal®, or Co-Co
Soft pancakes, soft French toast
moistened with syrup or sauce
Soft pasta, spätzle or dumplings with
sauce, butter or gravy
Moist white rice
Soft breads, rolls, or muffins
Plain cold cereal softened with milk
Brown or wild rice
Cold coarse cereals
with whole grains,
dry fruit or nuts
Dry coarse breads
with pieces of grain,
nuts or seeds
Coarse hard crackers
such as Rye Crisp or
Hard taco shells
Chow mein noodles
Soup Any cream soups or broth soups
without large chunks of food
Soups with stringy
vegetables or other
firm pieces of food
Desserts Custards or pudding
Rice or bread pudding without dried
Sherbet/sorbet, Ice cream and
popsicles if thin liquids are allowed
Cakes and pies without nuts
Soft cookies without dried fruit or nuts
Chocolate candy without nuts
Desserts with nuts,
seeds, coconut or
Candy with nuts
Hard or chewy candy
or cookies (taffy,
Drinks All drinks None, unless you have
been told to thicken your
liquids then see Health
Facts For You # 468.
Other Butter, margarine, oils, vegetable
Salad dressings, mayonnaise
Salt, pepper, spices
Catsup, mustard, barbecue sauce
Jelly or preserves (without tough fruit
Sugar, honey, molasses, or syrup,
Sauces: tomato, alfredo, cheese
Cream cheese and spreads with soft
fruits or vegetables
Sour cream and dips with soft fruits
Jam or jelly with
Salsa with large
pieces of vegetable
How to Prepare Diced Meat and Vegetables
All food must be in pieces that are no larger than ¼ inch.
1. Cut meat or veggies into strips that are ¼ inch or less.
2. Turn and cut every ¼ inch or less. You will want to be sure that all cubes are
smaller than ¼ inch.
Cooking and Preparation Tips
Use tools such as a blender, food processor, food chopper, grinder, or potato masher to
prepare foods for this diet.
Use gravies, sauces, vegetable or fruit juice, milk, half-and-half or water from cooking to
moisten foods when blending, chopping, grinding, or mashing them.
Serve foods with gravies or sauces to moisten them and to add flavor.
Serve soft, moist casseroles and fish, meat, or egg salads without large chunks of meat or
Serve soups with small pieces of easy to chew and easy to swallow meats and vegetables.
Cover bread products such as pancakes or bread slices with sauce, gravy, or syrup, then
mix the two items until the bread product begins to dissolve into a slurry.
Add dry milk powder to foods to increase the calories and protein in this diet.
Prepare quantities of favorite food items and freeze them in portion sizes for use later.
Reheat foods carefully so that a tough outer crust does not form on them.
Avoid sticky foods such as peanut butter, and chewy candies such as caramel, toffee, and
Vegetables should be cooked tender enough to be easily mashed with a fork.
How can I increase my calories without a lot of chewing?
Add nutritional supplements such as Ensure®, BOOST®, or Carnation Breakfast Essentials® to
your diet. Most people on this diet are happy to find out that desserts are a fun way to increase
calories. In the morning, you can fix what you might want to call “Super Duper Cereal.” It can
be made based on what tastes you like.
Super Duper Cereal
1 package of plain instant oatmeal
4 ounces of high protein nutrition supplement such as Boost High Protein®, Ensure High
Protein®, or similar product. You pick the flavor.
Nutmeg or cinnamon
Empty instant oats into a microwave bowl. Add supplement. Microwave uncovered for
1 ½ -2 minutes or until thickened. Use potholders to remove. Sprinkle with nutmeg or
cinnamon. Serve with milk or cream as desired. Each serving will provide 212 calories
and 20.5 grams of protein.
1 egg, beaten
1 ¾ cups milk
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats or blended rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter
In a sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the egg, milk, and brown sugar. Mix in
the oats. When the oatmeal begins to boil, cook and stir until thick. Remove from the
heat. Stir in the butter until melted. Makes two servings. Each serving will provide 497
calories and 16.4 grams of protein.
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department
of Nursing. HF#363