Healthy Eating Guidelines For People with Chewing Difficulties


This resource will help you choose foods that are soft, moist and easy to chew. These eating guidelines may be helpful if you have undergone head, neck or mouth surgery, or have had recent dental work.

Steps You Can Take

  • Choose soft moist foods. Chop, finely mince, grind, mash or puree foods to a texture you can easily chew.
  • Soften bread products or crackers in soup, milk or tea; or spread with non-hydrogenated margarine, syrup or honey.
  • Use milk, cream, or broth to mash vegetables like potatoes, yams, squash or carrots.
  • Blend banana, melon, or frozen fruit into milkshakes or smoothies.
  • Use gravy, broth or sauce to moisten meat, poultry or fish.
  • Use cheese sauce to moisten vegetables, noodles or rice.
  • Top foods with butter, margarine, oils, salad dressings or sour cream to moisten foods and enhance flavours.
  • For overall health, eat balanced meals each day. Choose foods from all 4 of the food groups in "Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide" Aim to include at least 3 of the 4 food groups at each meal.

The table below will help you choose foods from each food group that are soft and easy to chew.

Food Group Choose Avoid

Vegetables and Fruit 7-10 servings per day

1 serving =

  • 125 mL (½ cup) cooked vegetables
  • 125 mL (½ cup) cooked or canned fruit
  • 125 mL (½ cup) juice

Canned or well cooked vegetables or fruit

Mashed or pureed fruit or vegetable, such as applesauce, mashed potatoes

Soft, well ripe fruit or vegetable, such as banana, peach, avocado

Fruit or vegetable juice

Fresh grapefruit and oranges




Pan-fried potatoes, potato skins, French fries

Any fried or crispy vegetables

Dried fruit or vegetables unless cooked until soft

Grain Products 6-8 servings per day

1 serving =

  • 1 slice bread, 1 small pancake or waffle, ½ muffin (35 g)
  • 175 mL (¾ cup) cooked cereal or 30 g cold cereal
  • 125 mL (½ cup) cooked pasta, rice, quinoa
  • 30 g crackers

Soft breads, pancakes, muffins and baked goods

Oatmeal or cream of wheat

Cold cereal that becomes soft with milk

Soft cooked noodles, pasta, rice, or quinoa

Crackers softened in soup or milk

Breads or buns with tough crusts

Baked goods and cereals made with dried fruits, nuts or seeds

Cereals that stay crunchy in milk

Crisp crackers or biscuits

Milk and Alternatives 2-3 servings per day

1 serving =

  • 250 mL (1 cup) milk or fortified soy beverage
  • 175 mL (¾ cup) yogurt
  • 250 mL (1 cup) cottage cheese
  • 50 g (1½ oz) natural hard cheese
  • 2 processed cheese slices

Milk, chocolate milk or milkshakes

Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese or cheese sauce

Soft, grated or melted cheese

Plain or flavoured yogurt, custards, puddings or ice cream


Meat and Meat Alternatives 2-3 servings per day

1 serving =

  • 75 g (2 ½ oz) cooked meat, poultry or fish
  • 175 mL (¾ cup) tofu
  • 2 eggs
  • 175 mL (¾ cup) cooked beans, peas and lentils
  • 30 mL (2 Tbsp) peanut or nut butter

Stewed or braised tender, cooked beef, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey (ground, minced or moist, thinly sliced meats)

Fish without bones

Casseroles made of ground meat, beans or lentils

Smooth peanut butter



Hot dogs, sausage, bacon slices

Dry or tough cuts of meat

Poultry with skin

Crunchy peanut butter

Whole nuts and seeds


Other Foods Choose Avoid


Clear broth soups

Blended soups

Creamed soups and chowders

Soups with big pieces of meat or crunchy vegetables


Plain jelly

Jelly with soft fruits



Sugar substitutes


Granola bars

Chewy candy

Crunchy cookies


Meal Ideas

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Shepherd's Pie (made with ground beef and well cooked vegetables)
  • Meatloaf
  • Perogies
  • Lasagna/cannelloni/pasta dishes
  • Omelettes
  • Chili

Other Tips

  • Remove skins and seeds from fruits and vegetables before cooking.
  • Don't eat foods or drinks made with raw eggs, as these can cause food poisoning.
  • If your appetite is small, eat more often - 5 or 6 times a day.
  • If you are losing weight, talk to a registered dietitian.

Additional Resources

HealthLinkBC Medically approved non-emergency health information and advice.

Last updated: February 2012

These resources are provided as sources of additional information believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of publication and should not be considered an endorsement of any information, service, product or company.

Distributed by:

Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC (formerly Dial-A-Dietitian), providing free nutrition information and resources for BC residents and health professionals. Go to Healthy Eating or call 8-1-1 (anywhere in BC). Interpreters are available in over 130 languages.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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