Many seniors have to begin a soft food diet after a mouth, jaw or gastrointestinal tract surgery or following a stroke, but that does not necessarily mean that they have to sacrifice flavor or variety. Many people believe that soft food is boring but with the right preparation seniors can enjoy delicious soft foods. In this article we would like to offer some soft food ideas for the elderly that will allow seniors to enjoy some variety in their diet.
Fruits and vegetables are the easiest soft food options because fruits and vegetables are usually very easy to prepare. Fruits such as bananas, avocados, melon, berries and peaches are very soft and can be consumed raw and can be eaten after they are cut into small pieces. Seniors can also enjoy canned fruits such as mandarin oranges, fruit cocktail or applesauce which do not require any preparation. Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, squash and tomatoes are also easy to eat if they are mashed or pureed. Seniors should try to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and should avoid fruits and vegetables with hard outer skin such as apples, celery, corn and dried fruit because it is much harder to chew and can be harder to swallow if it is not chewed completely. Seniors can also use fruits and vegetables to make a smoothie which gives them more variety options. Seniors can enjoy a nice fruit smoothie for breakfast or a smoothie with fruits and vegetables as an afternoon snack.
Dairy is another good choice of soft food for seniors because many dairy items are naturally soft and easy to chew and dairy products contain many useful nutrients. Seniors should try to get at least two servings of dairy each day and can choose from milk, cheese and yogurt for variety. One of the best things about cheese and yogurt is that there are many different options available. Seniors can choose their favorite cheeses but it is best to buy shredded cheese or to slice cheese up before eating it because the smaller portions are easier for seniors to chew. Seniors can also enjoy trying different yogurt flavors but should look for yogurt without toppings unless they are soft fruit toppings because candy and granola toppings are usually difficult for seniors to chew.
It is also very important for seniors to include grains and protein in their soft food diet. Seniors can enjoy muffins, cereal, oatmeal or cream of wheat for breakfast and can even add in some soft fruits for variety. Pasta and rice make good lunch and dinner options and both pasta and rice can be found in a variety of options. Pasta and rice are very versatile because they come in different options such as white rice, brown rice and yellow rice and spaghetti, macaroni and lasagna noodles. Rice and pasta can also be cooked as part of a casserole or put into a soup so seniors can create their own recipes with soft grains for different meal options. Seniors that are not vegetarian can enjoy tender meats such as ground beef, poultry and pork tenderloin but should avoid meats that are fried or crispy. Eggs, tofu and peanut butter are also good protein options as long as the peanut butter is creamy and does not contain hard nut pieces.
Seniors should keep these soft food ideas in mind so that they will know what foods will be easy for them to eat. Family caregivers can assist their loved ones by helping them combine soft foods to make delicious and flavorful meals. Family caregivers and seniors can work together to find recipes that include soft foods and use them to create weekly menus so that seniors will not be stuck eating the same foods every day. For instance seniors might enjoy oatmeal with berries for breakfast, soup and mashed vegetables for lunch and a meat and vegetable casserole for dinner one day and then soft bread with jam and yogurt for breakfast, pasta and a fruit salad for lunch and grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and pureed vegetables for dinner the next day. The most important thing for seniors and family caregivers to keep in mind is that being on a soft food diet does not necessarily mean that seniors are limited to eating only oatmeal and soup all the time. With a little planning and preparation seniors can enjoy a variety of foods that fit their soft food diet. Seniors can also look online or ask their friends for new recipes if they want to keep trying new recipes and add to their recipe collection.
Additional articles on the subject in our home care blog:
- Kitchen Safety Tips For Seniors
- Tips to ensure senior drinks enough water
- Cholesterol 101 for Seniors
- Nutritional Risks: Warning Signs of Poor Senior Nutrition
- Nutrition Tips for Seniors