Have you recently had a tooth extracted, dental implants placed, gum grafting done, or otherwise experienced dental trauma? If so, you may need to follow a soft foods diet.
How can you eat healthy and keep your diet interesting, varied, and protein-rich while on a soft food diet? Here are some tips to help you ensure your easy-to-eat foods are also nourishing.
Fortify your favourite comfort foods
The sad truth is that many of our go-to comfort foods tend to be buttery, creamy, high-calorie, high-sodium, and high-fat. But it’s easy to makeover these nutrient-poor foods into healthy and still delicious dishes.
- Cooked cereals and porridge – pureéd bananas, applesauce, or mashed berries add a nutritional boost
- Mashed potatoes – make with broth, low-fat milk, buttermilk, or plain yogurt instead of sour cream, cream, or butter; add a handful of grated cheese
- Tuna, chicken, or egg salad – use plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise for an added protein boost
- Mac and cheese – cook and pureé sweet root vegetables like butternut squash or carrots and then add them to your cheese sauce for a hidden serving of veggies
Watch your sugars
For most people, sugar in moderation is fine. In excess, it can lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems, promote heart disease, contribute to inflammation, and lead to the formation and buildup of dental plaque. If you’re on a soft food diet, don’t be afraid to consume natural sugars found in fruit and vegetables, but aim to reduce added sugars.
- Are you a smoothie fan? Fresh or frozen fruit will provide all the sweetness you really need. Steer clear of adding sugar, honey, cane sugar, agave, and even juice as doing so adds a lot of empty calories.
- Tomato juice, V8, or other vegetable juices offer some good vegetable nutrition without all the sugar of fruit juice. (Choose low-sodium versions if sodium is a concern.)
Eat enough protein
Many patients on soft food diets complain about weight loss and low energy. These symptoms are usually attributed to a diet high in carbohydrates and empty-calorie foods like potatoes, pasta, and surgery smoothies.
Protein-rich soft foods like tuna, salmon, egg, beans, and low-fat yogurt provide a much healthier alternative. These nutrient-dense soft foods will energize you and keep your healing and regenerative cells in high gear during recovery from dental trauma.
- Add some dessert or silken tofu to your yogurt – it will mix in completely and provide 5 g of protein per serving
- For those who tolerate dairy products, a glass of milk provides 8 grams of protein, plenty of calcium, potassium, and B12, and makes a convenient and nutritious between-meal snack
- Yogurt is another great high-protein choice. Opt for low-fat, plain yogurt and be rewarded with up to 13 g of protein per 1 cup serving. Steer clear of fruit-flavoured or sweetened yogurts which can contain 19 g of sugar or more per serving.
- Add a tin of drained, rinsed, and well-mashed beans to soups for extra texture and (of course) protein – black beans, navy beans, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans have 7 to 9 g of protein per serving
- A half cup of cottage cheese can provide 14 to 16 g of protein!
- Try tuna or salmon salad with plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise – tuna and salmon offer 22 g of protein per serving
(Healthy) fats are your friend
After decades of being told that low-fat was healthy, all of a sudden, fats are in fashion!
Nutritionists today understand that fats perform numerous functions in a healthy body. They help you absorb vitamins A, D, and E, and they are vital for your nervous system.
Monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil, peanut butter, and avocados raise good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol, and protect your arteries from plaque buildup. Polyunsaturated fats found in foods like salmon, flaxseed, and tofu boost brain function, contribute to a healthy immune system, and keep skin and eyes healthy.
Saturated fats, found in meat, poultry, and dairy products, don’t need to be avoided but they should be limited in your diet. And steer clear of trans fats which promote heart disease.
Make your smoothie even more nutritious with these easy switches and add-ins:
- Add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil or nut butter
- Sub in low-fat unsweetened yogurt for high-fat ice cream
- Add a few slices of avocado (this will boost the creaminess too)