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Adding energy and protein to a soft diet

There are ways to add energy (calories) and protein to a soft diet.

A soft diet

If you need a soft diet, you might sometimes find it hard to eat all the protein and calories that you need.

A soft diet means you often have to add water to food to soften it. This adds bulk and reduces the nutritional value and flavour of the food. But there are ways of increasing calories in a soft diet.

Tips for boosting energy and protein

You can increase your calorie intake and improve your strength and energy levels by trying the following tips:

  • Use whole milk and not skimmed or semi-skimmed.
  • Boost the protein content of whole milk by adding a couple of tablespoons of dried milk powder to a pint. Use this exactly as ordinary milk for drinking and cooking.
  • Porridge is a very nutritious breakfast - make it with whole or fortified milk, and add syrup or sugar and cream.
  • Mash vegetables with milk and add some grated cheese and egg.
  • Make up instant soups with milk instead of water, and top with grated cheese or cream.
  • Add minced meat, lentils, beans, noodles or pasta shapes to soups.
  • Add cheese and a little cream to an omelette.
  • Dip cooked, soft vegetables in dips such as hummus or sour cream.
  • Make coffee, hot chocolate or Horlicks with full fat milk and enrich with a spoonful of cream. And dunk your favourite biscuits!
  • Make milkshakes with build up drinks, ice cream, yoghurt and fresh fruit - banana with a chocolate build up drink is delicious!

Getting dietary advice

Speak to your doctor if swallowing problems are making eating and drinking hard. Your doctor may refer you to a speech and language therapist.   

The therapist check that your swallowing is safe. Also, that food or drink is not going down the wrong way. They might suggest that you stick to eating soft foods. Or they might tell you about the types of textures that are better for you.

Everyone is different. One person may be able to eat certain foods that cause problems for another. Some people may not be able to manage high fibre foods such as vegetables and grains. People vary in the type of textures of different foods they like.

You might need some specific advice from a dietician. 

Ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to a dietician at your local hospital. They might suggest that you try liquid supplements to boost your diet.

Last reviewed: 
06 Oct 2017
  • Symptom management in advanced cancer (4th edition)
    R Twycross and others
    Radcliffe Medical Press Ltd, 2009

  • Nutrition and Cancer
    Edited by Clare Shaw
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2011

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