*The term diet is said in jest- this is not weight loss advice and I am not a health care professional.
As discussed in parts 1 and 2 of my wisdom teeth extraction post, I had a complication during surgery in which the oral surgeon fractured my jaw. As a result I have to eat soft foods for 6 weeks. After browsing the Internet I realized that there are quite a few people who are in a similar situation and are interested in soft food suggestions.
A soft foods diet gets boring very quickly and as someone who is underweight, there is the added challenge of ensuring I eat enough during this time. Those recovering from a surgery should also consider that certain foods will aid the healing process more than others. Subsisting on sugar alone for example, is unlikely to speed up recovery. Remember that everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you. Be patient with yourself and take the process one day at a time.
The following are my soft food suggestions:
In the Beginning:
*The Dr. instructed me to avoid fruit with seeds which further limits my smoothie repertoire. I recommend buying frozen fruit with the exception of bananas because they are so easy to cut in half and freeze yourself.
I was also told that citrus/acidic fruit should be avoided because they could irritate the sockets. While I did avoid citrus/acidic food for the first week, after that I tried some tomato soup to no ill effect and have had no issues with this food category myself. Listen to your body.
These are the recipes I have been enjoying and if you can tolerate citrus, using orange juice instead of or in addition to apple juice will really improve the taste of the first recipe.
These recipes do not contain quantities as I never measure when making smoothies. Sorry!
1 Banana / Frozen peaches / Frozen mango /Apple juice / coconut milk / coconut water
1 Banana / Chocolate protein powder / Frozen cherries (if desired, tastes good without too) / 1-2 tbsp nut butter (to taste) / Spinach / Coconut milk/ coconut water
Note: Try to get plenty of protein while you are recovering. For example, add protein powder to your smoothies. It will keep you feeling full and energized.
Smoothies are also an optimal way to consume your vegetables. I recommend handfuls of spinach or adding a scoop of this Amazing Grass powder to your smoothies. I purchased mine at Whole Foods but I think you can find it on Amazon too? Disclaimer: I have a high tolerance for health foods that some people are unwilling to eat. This powder is not super great tasting (definitely not bad though) but it will provide you with much needed nutrients at this time.
2. Ice cream, sorbet & popsicles… oh my!
We got married this past March and one of our wedding gifts was an ice cream maker! You can bet it’s been getting a lot of use lately. Flavor choices are a bit restricted because you can’t eat anything with chunks or seeds, but homemade vanilla is pretty luscious. If you’re buying ice cream at the store I really like Talenti vanilla bean as well as Haagen Dazs peach sorbet. I’m not a big fan of caramel but if you are that’s a good option too.
Golden Spoon frozen yogurt is my favorite because there is such a variety. It is a soft and delightful consistency. Costco’s frozen yogurt is also an amazing and indulgent choice.
Popsicles were a little more difficult to eat because I couldn’t open my mouth very wide (could barely fit a spoon initially) but they are a fun way to mix things up and are not as high in calories if you are conscious of that.
I will admit, I got sick of this one very quickly but it is easy to eat. I prefer buying the packaged jello cups at the store because the “homemade” version takes up a lot of space in the fridge. Also the cups are very portable. I like raspberry Jello the best. Try it with some whip cream on top, it adds an element of indulgence. The Jello brand also sells pudding that is even tastier. It seems less unnatural and more comforting, but to each his own.
Applesauce is a nice change of pace from the saccharine sweetness of ice cream and jello. It is pleasant to enjoy a serving of fruit that isn’t in smoothie form. Apples are my favorite fruit and I miss their pleasant crunch, but applesauce appeases me. I also read that you can eat baked apples as long as you peel the skins first, but I was a little wary of trying this because it seemed difficult to eat. I think I am finally at the point in which it might be doable.
Make sure your soup is not too hot, especially immediately after surgery. Your mouth will still be numb that first day and it is difficult to gauge temperature. You may burn yourself without knowing, so be careful.
- Chicken noodle soup (sans chicken) << Chicken broth with butter might be easier at first
- Cream of chicken << Didn’t try it but it sounds hearty
- Matzo Ball soup
- Split pea soup *
- Black bean soup *
- Potato soup *
- Chicken gnocchi soup from Olive Garden << This is a more “advanced” soup (avoid the chicken and possibly the gnocchi if it’s too difficult to eat
- Tomato soup << Not everyone can tolerate this because it’s acidic
- Lemon orzo soup << Same with this one
*Indicates that you have to use an immersion blender to make the soup a smooth consistency
This is one of my favorite breakfasts. I never tried crepes but I’m sure they would be a great choice as well- maybe even better because they are thinner? Anyways, make sure to let your pancakes soak up the syrup for a little bit before enjoying as it makes them easier to eat. I spread peanut butter on mine for a little bit of added protein and fat.
7. Mashed Potatoes
This meal was a lifesaver for me. It was one of the few things I ate that made me feel truly satiated. Mashed potatoes are classic comfort food and while I did get tired of them eventually, I highly recommend them as a savory meal. You will get sick of all the sugar eventually 😉
About three days after my recovery I wasn’t keen on having another smoothie for breakfast. The nurses told me I could eat eggs so I woke up and made a beautiful plate of eggs for my husband and I. I was so excited to have “normal” food for once. By the first bite I knew that eggs were too difficult to eat at that point in time. For some reason this made me really frustrated and emotional and I started crying. Looking back it’s kind of funny. Afterwards I made a smoothie instead. In hindsight, maybe I should have tried an omelette rather than scrambled eggs?
2. Mac and Cheese
You will want to overcook the mac and cheese so that it is extra soft. It is so delicious and filling! It’s nice eating something soothing and cheesy. My favorite brand was Annie’s but I will pretty much eat any mac and cheese. Unless it is truffle flavored, that is too rich for me.
In a similar vein as mac and cheese, pasta is a great option because of its versatility. I would recommend overcooking it so there is minimal chewing. I had the best luck with the shorter noodles. Rotini and fusilli were the easiest for me to eat followed by penne. The long, thin noodles like capellini or spaghetti were a little more difficult. If you feel like you’re eating the same thing every day try different sauces: alfredo, marinara, pesto, butter/olive oil, tomato cream- even teriyaki! Towards the end of week two I had penne with pesto and overcooked artichoke hearts and I was in heaven.
You can probably eat this one towards the end of the first week or sooner. The grains can get stuck in the sockets sometimes so make sure to flush them out. You can also try making different flavors to keep it interesting such as parmesan, lemon, or truffle. Risotto makes the soft foods diet tolerable.
5. Shredded chicken or pork
Break out your slow cooker and make some shredded chicken or pork. You will finally be able to enjoy the protein your body is craving without a lot of chewing. Our favorite slow cooker recipe is crockpot chicken parmesan
It has been a staple for my husband and I ever since we bought a slow cooker in our first apartment.
You could also be creative and put shredded chicken or pork on an overcooked baked potato with some butter and cheese. There are many slow cooker recipes out there and they are your friend.
I recommend this one tentatively because you need to make sure that the meat is small enough to eat comfortably. That being said, chili is delicious with or without meat. It is hearty and restorative during recovery and it’s a nice deviation from pasta. To make this meal even more delicious bake some cornbread and let it sit on top of the chili until it is soft enough to eat. You will thank me later.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t really care for fish given other options. Salmon is one of my last choices because it can be hit or miss depending on how it is prepared. I only enjoy grilled salmon, to be specific, my Dad’s grilled salmon. My parents were kind enough to make this for dinner one night when we came over and it is probably one of my favorite meals I’ve had over the course of the soft foods diet.
Note: I’ve been meaning to try tuna as well but I’m discouraged by the fact that I can’t put anything crunchy in it to offset the texture or eat it in a sandwich which is my preferred method.
I actually like tofu a lot, but under normal circumstances I avoid it due to the soy content. Despite this, it is good to remember everything in moderation and when on a soft foods diet I have no problem incorporating some tofu. Silken tofu is soft enough and tasty when cooked in teriyaki or whichever sauce you prefer. It pairs nicely with rice. If you can get veggies soft enough to eat then you can include those as well, but I didn’t want to risk it. Stay away from fried tofu because even though it’s mind blowing it is also very chewy.
Sample Soft Foods
Enjoy, you have the most options here.
1. Yogurt (avoid flavors with seeds; when in doubt don’t buy it- for example, I bought the Dannon Oikos raspberry and it had seeds which I didn’t expect).
2. Instant Oatmeal (avoid oatmeal with chia seeds, nuts, flax)
3. Bottled Odwalla Shakes/Smoothies
I mention this brand in particular because I enjoyed all of the flavors, especially compared to other brands. I drank the following on a regular basis: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry (it doesn’t have seeds) and vitamin C monster. This was my breakfast at work every day for the first 2 ½ weeks because it meant I didn’t have to rinse with salt water afterwards.
Note: I never tried cereal but if you let it get soggy before eating it’s not a bad idea
1. One of the following: Annie’s instant mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, risotto, pasta, or soup.
2. And: Jello, pudding, applesauce, or yogurt (if I didn’t have yogurt for breakfast).
3. Throw in a drink such as a smoothie, sweet tea, lemonade, juice, shake etc. to supplement your meal if you want to add some calories.
Pretty much the same as lunch: mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, risotto, pasta, shredded chicken/pork, breakfast for dinner, or soup.
Note: If you start to get bored and are sick of cooking, I recommend going out to eat from time to time if it is within your budget.
The fun part!
– Ice cream
– Frozen yogurt
– Crème brulee
– Soft cake (molten lava cake, pineapple upside down cake, angel food cake anyone?)
– Pie filling (examples: apple pie, cherry pie, pumpkin pie)
I hope this gave you some good ideas for soft foods! I can get through this and so can you. And hey, at the end of the day at least we get to eat tons of ice cream haha. If you have any other soft food recommendations that you would like to share please post them in the comments.