Mechanical Soft vs. Soft Foods Diet

If you have certain medical conditions or are recovering from surgery, your doctor may recommend a mechanical soft or soft foods diet.  While these two eating plans sound similar, they’re actually quite different in terms of what foods are allowed and what they’re prescribed for. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between these two oft-prescribed diets.


Mechanical Soft Diet

A mechanical soft diet focuses more on texture than ingredients.  Mechanical soft foods are usually altered in some way so they’re easy to chew and swallow.  It’s a useful diet for people for having difficulty chewing food, perhaps for some of the following reasons:

  • Getting used to new dentures
  • Recent stroke
  • Missing teeth
  • Just underwent radiation treatment
  • Sore jaw

Mechanical soft foods you can eat

One nice aspect of a mechanical soft diet is that it’s not too restrictive.  As long as the foods you eat are cooked, shredded, blended, chopped, or ground you’re usually good to go. 

Here are some examples of foods you can eat while on a mechanical soft diet:

  • All dairy products except non-shredded hard cheeses
  • Ground meats
  • Flaky fish
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Nut butters
  • Soft cooked vegetables – no seeds or skins
  • Soups with finely chopped vegetables
  • Anything pureed
  • Oatmeal
  • Gravies and sauces
  • Soft bread

Foods to avoid on a mechanical soft diet

Below are some examples of difficult to chew foods you’ll want to avoid on a mechanical soft diet plan:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Non-ground meats
  • Breads with hard crust
  • Hard candy
  • Raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables


Soft Foods Diet

Different than a mechanical soft diet that focuses on the texture of foods and ease of chewing, a soft foods diet emphasizes foods that are easy to digest.  However, there is some overlap between the two diets as easy to chew foods are often easier to digest. 

Usually, this diet is prescribed for people with gastrointestinal issues or post-discharge from surgery (especially oral or throat surgery).  Oftentimes, patients in a hospital will transition from an all-liquid diet to a soft diet to ease the transition back into normal eating.  Different than a mechanical soft diet, which can be a long-term eating plan, a soft diet is usually prescribed for just a few days or few weeks at most.

Soft foods you can eat

A soft foods diet plan is often low in fiber and lacking in spices, while emphasizing simple carbohydrates.  Staying hydrated is also especially important for a soft foods diet plan.

Here are some examples of soft diet foods:

  • Pureed fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Egg noodles
  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Bananas
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tea
  • Mangos
  • Avocados
  • Mashed potatoes

Foods to avoid on a soft food diet

Here are some examples of high-fiber or difficult to digest foods you’ll want to avoid on a soft foods diet:

  • Whole wheat
  • Raw veggies
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Brown rice
  • Berries
  • Carbonated drinks
  • High fiber cereals