Your idea of a great meal might not include broths and puddings. Even though you may crave steak and potatoes or sweet and sticky doughnuts, a health condition might require you to eat only soft foods for a period of time. Many hospitals and nutritionists advise soft-food diets after certain procedures or during periods of illness. Although you may miss the texture of your normal diet, healthy soft foods can supply your body with important nutrients and provide a source of energy.
When It is Used
Your doctor might put you on a soft diet after extensive dental work or an illness, before a medical treatment, during a hospitalization or after a surgical procedure. According to the National Institutes of Health, some individuals undergoing cancer treatments may receive instructions from doctors or dieticians to follow a soft-food diet for a specific period of time.
Give Your Stomach a Rest
Your doctor might advise a soft-food diet to allow your digestive system to rest or to adjust to changes brought on by a surgical procedure. The Mayo Clinic advises patients to follow a strict, soft-food diet after gastric-bypass surgery. This type of diet helps patients lose weight, avoid post-surgical complications and allows time for the incisions to heal.
Liquid diets often progress in phases. Your doctor might allow you to have only clear liquids at first, to determine how well your system accepts them. Your clear liquids might include herbal teas, juices and broths. Bland soups or unsweetened juices then follow clear liquids. The Mayo Clinic recommends moving to the second phase of your soft-food diet once you tolerate your liquids. The second phase of a soft-food diet often includes pureed foods, such as meats, beans and egg whites. The final phases may involve adding naturally soft foods to your pureed lineup. Naturally soft foods include cooked vegetables and soft fruits. Most people can return to eating firmer foods after about eight weeks, though some foods–such as popcorn, nuts and seeds, dried fruits or sodas–should be limited or avoided until your system is back to normal.
Get Your Nutrients
As with all types of diets, nutrition plays an important role in maintaining health. The Gale Encyclopedia of Health recommends consuming soft foods that contain generous amounts of nutrients, such as yogurt, custard, instant-breakfast drinks, pureed meats and vegetables, bananas and squash.
Things to Watch
The National Institutes of Health recommends you follow your doctor’s or dietitian’s instructions regarding this type of special diet. Although you might want to try a soft-food diet for weight loss or other reasons, consult your doctor before radically changing your eating habits. The National Institutes of Health also warns that some types of special diets, including a soft-food diet, might not include enough nutrients for long-term use.
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