Difficulty swallowing | Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Difficulty swallowing

Landing page coping image

This page has tips for people who have difficulty swallowing. If you need to eat a soft diet, it may be difficult to get enough variety in your diet. You need to have enough calories to stay healthy and keep your weight up. A food processor or liquidiser will be a great help. Hand blenders are particularly quick and easy to use.

These tips can help you make the most of a soft diet

  • Eat slowly
  • Chew food thoroughly
  • Have plenty to drink during and after meals to soften your food and prevent blockages
  • Eat 'little and often' - having small frequent meals with snacks in between is often easier to cope with and will increase your nutritional intake each day
  • Use a blender to process solid foods - you can eat most of your favourite foods this way, with a few changes here and there
  • Mince meat or finely chop meat and vegetables in a food processor before or after cooking
  • Blend meat or vegetable casseroles or curries to make tasty soups
  • Avoid foods that need a lot of chewing and are hard to swallow - such as nuts, raw vegetables, dry biscuits, tough meat
  • Include plenty of high calorie drinks
  • Use more sauces, gravies, cream, butter, milk or custard to soften foods - moist food is easier to swallow than dry. Try fish with a parsley sauce or sponge cake with custard or cream
  • Eat more stews and casseroles - long, slow cooking softens meat and vegetables
  • Let very hot meals or drinks cool before you eat or drink them - warm foods may be more soothing
  • Cold foods can be soothing too - for example, ice cream, yoghurt, mousse or jelly
  • Try soft foods such as milkshakes (banana, chocolate, strawberry) add ice cream for extra calories
  • Eat cereals such as porridge and other soft cereals
  • Try pureeing vegetables and mashed potatoes
  • If you are trying to put on weight, use milk or cream instead of water when mashing or blending foods
  • See our suggestions for soft diet meals

If you are trying to put on weight, we have information about adding calories to a soft diet

Rate this page:
Submit rating


Rated 5 out of 5 based on 10 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 25 February 2014