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Difficulty swallowing

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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

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Updated: 25 February 2014