Mechanical Soft Diet for Dysphagia

It is very common for people who have had treatment for a swallowing disorder or difficulty swallowing, called dysphagia, to have a recommendation from a speech language pathologist to stay on a mechanical soft diet.  

Foods allowed on a mechanical soft diet are generally soft foods which do not require a lot of chewing. The following are some basic guidelines. Please check with your speech language pathologist who is managing your dysphagia treatment for recommendations specific to your particular swallowing difficulty. 

1.) Meats are usually allowed on mechanical soft diets, but only if they are cut, chopped, or ground into very small pieces.

2.) Vegetables should be well cooked so that they are soft and easy to chew.

3.) Fruits are allowed on a mechanical soft diet, as long as they are peeled and cut into small pieces. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit should be cut into very small pieces. 

4.) Breads, cakes, and cookies are allowed, as long as they are not too crumbly. 

5.) Chips, rice, and crumbly breads, cakes, and cookies may or may not be allowed, depending on how many difficulty swallowing symptoms you have with these foods (coughing, choking, etc.) which should be determined by your speech language pathologist. Chewing very thoroughly will help you tolerate these foods.

6.) Pasta and pasta dishes such as spaghetti and macaroni and cheese are allowed on mechanical soft diets. Meats in the pasta sauce should be chopped or ground.

7.) Sandwiches made with soft bread and soft fillings are a good option, such as: peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish, chicken salad, egg salad, and tender turkey breast or chicken. Avoid lettuce and other raw vegetables, tough meats, and crumbly breads.


Jolie Parker, M.S.CCC-SLP received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from the University of Florida and then went on to receive her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology also from the University of Central Arkansas. She specializes in the treatment of people who have difficulty swallowing symptoms, such as having difficulty swallowing food, coughing or choking while eating, difficulty swallowing pills, and coughing or choking when drinking liquids. Many of her dysphagia patients have been on PEG tubes, mechanical soft diets, pureed diets, and/or thickened liquids and have returned to regular foods and liquids after completing dysphagia exercises with the ISO Swallowing Exercise Device, including CTAR (Chin Tuck Against Resistance) and JOAR (Jaw Opening Against Resistance) and other dysphagia exercises. Some patients who had PEG tubes and were not allowed to eat or drink anything for many months have been able to have the PEG tube removed after completing swallowing exercises with the ISO-SED. 

Jolie provides home therapy visits for adults and children with dysphagia in the central Florida area. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), a state license from the Florida Department of Health, and has 20 years of experience in clinical settings, hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care. She is the author of the ASHA approved CEU course for speech language pathologists: Using the ISO Swallowing Exercise Device in Dysphagia Therapy.