Many patients face issues with having a sore mouth during cancer treatment, which can lead to them following a soft diet. While soft diets are helpful, they can be ‘nutrient dilute,’ meaning that eating enough calories to maintain weight is difficult.
If you’re eating a soft diet and find that you’re losing weight, it is a good idea to make every bite count by adding extra nutrition to your food. The tips below can help, but be sure to consult your registered dietitian and medical team if you have ongoing weight loss.
The list below will help you find ingredients to enjoy and add to your meals. However, it is important to follow the guidance of your registered dietitian, medical team and speech pathologist regarding the safest texture for you, particularly if you require thickened fluids.
- Chop or blend your food to help it go down easier. When blending foods, use nutritious liquids like whole milk, cream, half and half, and full fat coconut milk (from the can) rather than water. This will add in more flavor and nutrients, helping you to stay nourished. Also, make sure that you invest in a good quality blender – it’s worth it.
- Choose full-fat products to begin with and go for higher calorie options. E.g. choose creamed soups instead of broths, use high-calorie sauces like pesto and be generous with additions of sour cream, Greek yogurt and butter.
- Make up a jug of fortified milk to use in drinks, soups, and sauces. Simply add one cup of dried skimmed milk to one quart of whole milk and use this milk whenever you would use regular milk. Keep refrigerated and discard after 24 hours.
- Add a scoop of protein powder such as whey, pea, or hemp protein to give your smoothies an extra nutrient boost. We recommend choosing plain protein powders as often as possible to ensure that you are not getting unwanted additives in your protein powders and to have more options for adding it to foods.
- Tofu can be added to soups, smoothies, or puddings to increase their protein content, like in our Blueberry Tofu Smoothie or our Chocolate Orange Pudding. If you’re using tofu to add protein and calories to your smoothies or puddings, make sure you use soft silken variety and blend for longer otherwise your tofu will clump up.
- Add nut or seed butters to your smoothies, hot cereals, puddings, or yogurts for some healthy monounsaturated fats and additional protein and calories.
- Adding cheese to dishes will also give a boost of calories and protein. Try our Spinach Ricotta Eggs or Cheesy Cauliflower Mash.
- For a quick boost of calories, add one tablespoon of oil to sauces or savory sides like in our Mashed Rutabaga or Mashed Potato recipes – this simple addition will boost the energy content of your meal by 100 calories.
- Cream is your friend. Sour cream can be added to mashed potatoes for a delicious twist. Add two tablespoons of heavy cream to puddings, soups, and smoothies to boost the energy intake by 100 calories. Try adding cream to our Banana Pudding for an extra boost. These Lavender Poached Apples With Tahini Cream are also a great high-calorie option.
- If you are struggling, liquids can be easier to manage. Try our High Protein Hot Chocolate or Chocolate Coconut Smoothie, thickened as per your medical recommendations. Your doctor or registered dietitian may also recommend complete nutritional supplements. It is important to try different supplements to see which you prefer, as there are many on the market. Don’t forget that these supplements can be mixed into other meals to fortify them, which is particularly important if you do not like the taste.
Check out our Easy to Swallow recipes for more inspiration!