You must’ve heard about liquid diets and soft diets that are designed to help people with chewing or swallowing difficulties. One of such diets is a mechanical soft diet, usually recommended to people suffering or recovering from any surgery or illness. It provides a soft texture to food while fulfilling nutritional needs. Let’s look in detail at a mechanical soft diet and for whom it works better, and how?
What is a mechanical soft diet?
A special diet consisting of soft foods that are mechanically made smooth in texture to make them easy to chew and swallow. The food items are mechanically blended, whipped, grounded, chopped, or mashed to make them chew-friendly. The best part is, that it does not restrict any specific food category but allows one to eat everything but the consistency of the food should be soft.
Who needs to follow a mechanical soft diet?
A common idea is to follow a mechanical soft diet when someone needs to recover from a surgery or illness which makes it hard for them to eat regular solid foods. The most common condition due to which people prefer a mechanical soft diet is “Dysphagia”. Dysphagia is a medical condition that impairs brain function which controls the tongue and cheeks’ ability to move food around and chew. A person who might need to follow a mechanical is:
- Recovering from a stroke
- Recovering from the mouth, head, or neck surgery
- Suffering from chewing or swallowing difficulty
- Suffering from long-term diseases like cerebral palsy, which affects the chewing and swallowing capabilities
- Suffering from esophagus cancer
- Suffering from dental issues
Mechanical soft diet – What is allowed and what is prohibited?
As it is a specially designed diet for the people for whom it’s difficult to eat and chew due to any sickness or loss of teeth, there are certain foods that are specifically allowed to eat during this diet. While some other food items are strictly prohibited. Let’s take a look at what one can eat and what should be avoided at any cost:
|Meat and Protein||Cooked and tender, grounded, and minced meat or fish||Thick cut of meats like steak, pork chops, jerky meat|
|…||Casseroles only with grounded or diced meat||Sausages, hamburgers, wieners|
|…||Scrambled or soft boiled eggs||Casseroles with large pieces of meats|
|…||Chopped or mashed tofu, beans, legumes with smooth consistency||Fried fish and meat, shellfish|
|…||Hummus, cottage cheese||Crisp fried eggs|
|…||Chicken or fish salad with yogurt or mayonnaise||Chilli with beans|
|Dairy Products||Milk, powdered or condensed milk,||Flavored yogurt with chunks of fruits|
|…||Milkshakes, smoothies with soft fruits||Hard cheese slices like parmesan, cheddar, swiss|
|…||Yogurt, frozen yogurt||Yogurt with nuts|
|…||Cottage cheese, cream cheese, cheese sauce|
|…||Dairy ice cream, custard|
|Fruits and Vegetables||Well cooked and pureed vegetables||Raw or less-cooked vegetables|
Boiled legumes, mashed potatoes,
|…||Vegetable juices, and soups||Dried fruits, or fruits with seeds or skin|
|…||Applesauce, soft pureed fruits||Raw and stringy fruits like mango, pineapple|
|…||Canned and drained fruits||Coconut|
|Breads and cereals||Soaked oatmeals||Wild or brown rice|
|…||Boiled white rice, or moist rice||Cereals with whole grains or nuts|
|…||Soft boiled or cooked pasta||Dry breads with nuts or seeds or thick pieces of grains|
|…||Soft bread rolls||Popcorn or hard chips|
|…||Cereals softened with milk||Hard crackers|
|…||French toast or soft pancakes with syrup or sauce||Chow mein noodles|
|Desserts||Puddings or custards without dried fruit||Any dessert with nuts, or dried fruits|
|…||Soft cakes and pies||Granola bars|
|…||Gelatin, popsicles, ice creams||Hard or chewy candies like caramel, taffy|
|…||Chocolate without nuts||Chocolate with nuts|
Is a mechanical soft diet healthy?
Though a mechanical diet is specifically aimed at people with swallowing issues, the consumption of a balanced diet provides numerous health benefits.
- It helps people who face difficulty in chewing and swallowing to fulfill their nutritional needs, and enhance their energy
- It also helps people who are just weak or have a sensitive stomach and cannot eat hard foods
- It provides a sense of safety and comfort to the people who might be at risk of choking
- It’s a safe haven for the people who have lost their teeth or might have been facing dental issues
- It helps people restore their health after surgery or illness
- It also acts as a bridge between the transitioning from the liquid diet to back to regular solid diet
Are there any drawbacks?
Following a mechanical soft diet for the long term can have a few drawbacks, that’s why it’s necessary to follow this diet under the guidance of a health professional.
- It doesn’t provide enough nutrition
- It is not a sustainable diet plan
- It’s a costly diet to follow
- It makes one feel lethargic and out of energy
Mechanical soft diets are recommended to patients who are recovering from illness and surgery to continue the intake of nutrients without hurting them. It’s a safe and nutritious diet for people suffering from certain illnesses. One just has to consume every food item in a smooth and soft texture and should avoid hard and dry foods at any cost. Although a mechanical soft diet feels mundane and hard to follow, it promotes recovery and helps people to get back on track soon.
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