Many medical treatments recommend that cancer patients adopt a “soft diet,” a diet made up of foods that are easy to chew and swallow.
The side effects of treatment may include loss of appetite, mouth sores, nausea and fatigue, which can make it difficult to eat or cook. Similarly, patients who previously underwent surgery or have dental problems/dentures may have similar restrictions.
To offer some inspiration for those with health-related dietary constraints, we compiled 25 soft food ideas for patients. Check out the tasty options:
Pasta dishes are a great options because of the chewable quality of noodles and the ease of incorporating a lot of healthy veggies in the dish. Plus, pasta is just plain yummy.
1. Lasagna roll-ups
2. Mac n’ Cheese
This can be a great way to get your protein in, because ground meat in sauce is often small enough to not pose a chewing problem.
Soft Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables are crucial for your health due to their high vitamin content. They’re easily softened in the cooking process through steaming, pureeing or baking, so getting your veggies should be no problem. Many fruits are naturally soft, which makes getting your fruit fill easy.
4. Mashed sweet potatoes
Tip: Add cinnamon butter and a little brown sugar to make this veggie extra-tasty.
6. Broccoli steamed with cheese sauce
Hearty and delicious, soup is an obvious winner in the soft food category. Just make sure to avoid or strain soups with large chunks of vegetables or meat.
8. Tomato soup
9. Clam chowder
10. Chicken noodle
11. Butternut Squash
12. Potato leek soup
Getting your protein may seem a bit tricky, but by cooking meat low and slow and focusing on naturally softer sources of protein, you can still enjoy many different foods.
13. Fish without bones (baked, poached, steamed)
14. Slow-cooked chicken with cream sauce
15. Hard-boiled or soft scrambled eggs
Snack away! Many delicious snacks are easy to eat and will keep you full between meals.
Tip: If homemade, cook with cinnamon.
17. Cottage cheese with diced ripe strawberries
20. Hummus with soft pita bread
Who doesn’t love a sweet treat? Fortunately, there are many desserts that are both delicious and soft enough to enjoy anytime!
21. Tapioca or chocolate pudding
22. Ice cream/sherbet
24. Popsicles (store-bought or homemade)
25. Banana cream pie
For more ideas, check out the American Institute for Cancer Research’s great list of healthy recipes for cancer patients.
You read that right. Some cancer patients turn to baby foods, which are usually very nutritious. Baby food is also tempered with many vitamins and minerals, which means it’s both easy to eat and healthy.
Though not a food, water is still important to mention. The effects of cancer treatment can lead to dehydration, and when you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t function the way it should. Try these tips to help stave off dehydration:
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (more if you have diarrhea or vomiting)
- Drink other liquids like milk, juice, sports drinks, tea or coffee
- Suck on ice chips
- Record how much you drink to help you keep track
Foods to Avoid
When on a soft diet, it can be helpful to stay away from foods that are hard to chew or swallow. These can include:
- Hard starches like crusty bread or hard cereal
- Raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables like celery, carrots and apples
- Dried, tough, or chunks of meat like beef jerky or casseroles with large pieces of meat
- Peanut or almond butter or other sticky or stringy foods which can be hard to swallow
Important: Make sure to always talk to your doctor before changing your diet and/or water intake. He or she will be able to offer guidance that suits your specific health needs.
What Are Your Favorite Soft Foods?
We want to hear it from you. What other soft food options do you or your loved ones enjoy the most? Comment below!