If you ask us, soup is the perfect comfort food: warm and soothing, delicious and nutritious. It turns out doctors agree! Soup is often an ideal meal to help someone feel better, especially when recovering from surgery or when their treatment for an illness requires a soft food diet.
More than just a feel-good food for someone with the cold or flu, soup is an ideal soft food option for anyone undergoing dental procedures, chemotherapy or radiation treatments, and often during the recovery of other major surgeries.
If you or someone you know is placed on a restrictive diet, Spoonful of Comfort can help you with delicious solutions or even comfort items following surgery.
What Is a Soft Food Diet?
The soft food diet involves simple, easily digested foods. It typically includes items that are low in fiber, have a soft texture, and are easy to swallow with minimal chewing and easy digestion.
According to WebMD, there are two types of soft food diets: pureed and mechanical. Pureed foods require no chewing and are smooth in texture. Food is blended until it's soft enough to eat; mashed potatoes, pudding, and smoothies are good examples.
Mechanical soft diets still require little chewing, but may have more texture—such as cottage cheese, well-cooked fruits and vegetables, ground meats, and soft breads and pastas.
What Kind of Surgeries Require a Soft Food Diet?
A soft food diet makes sense for people who have had dental procedures or surgeries that affect their mouth or throat, such as a tonsillectomy. Soft foods are also helpful to people experiencing digestive difficulties or stomach surgeries.
However, a soft food diet can also be prescribed for surgeries and procedures that feel completely unrelated to the mouth. In fact, just having surgery can cause stress on a person’s digestive system—sometimes from the anesthesia, pain medications, or being immobile during recovery. Complex foods that are difficult to digest also require a lot of energy from the body to break them down.
Soft foods ease the demands on a person’s physical health. By providing nutrients that don’t have to be broken down during digestion, soft foods allow the body to focus its energies on healing.
How Long Is a Soft Food Diet Supposed to Last?
The length of time a doctor recommends a soft food diet will vary depending on the procedure or surgery. For simple wisdom teeth recovery, for example, it may be just a few days until the pain subsides and the stitches dissolve. On the other hand, a restrictive soft diet may be prescribed for two to three weeks for more complicated medical procedures such as a tonsillectomy, dental implants, or bariatric surgery.
The doctor or oral surgeon will give complete instructions, including how long to remain on the soft food diet.
What Are the Best Soft Foods to Eat?
While digestability is generally the primary reason for a soft food diet, doctors may recommend specific foods based on a patient’s needs. The Cleveland Clinic offers a helpful summary of typical foods included in a soft food diet. Common items include pureed foods, such as mashed potatoes and other cooked vegetables or canned fruits. Some soft food diet recommendations allow for soft cheese, scrambled eggs, ground meats, soft bread, and yogurt.
Soup is generally considered a soft food staple. To choose the right kind of soup, check to see if the person recovering from surgery needs a soft food diet that’s completely smooth (such as Tomato Basil Soup) or if they can manage different ingredients and textures. Some soft food diets recommend soups with clear broth, like Chicken Noodle Soup or Italian Wedding Soup, while other patients are free to eat cream-based soups, like Creamy Corn Chowder or Broccoli Cheddar.
What Kinds of Soups Are the Most Healing?
Think about when you've been sick; what type of soup is most commonly offered? Chicken Noodle Soup is known for its healing reputation. Bone, meat, and vegetable-based broths offer both nutritional value and flavor. They're jam-packed with nutrients, including collagen.
Vegetable soup is a great option for anyone as carrots, potatoes, corn, and greens provide lots of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and C, that the body needs to heal. However, most soups offer nutritional value, so eat what makes you happy — as long as it doesn't go against the doctor's advice.
What Comfort Foods Can You Eat After Surgery?
Believe it or not, a soft food diet might be the best thing about recovering from surgery! We’re talking ice cream, Mac n’ Cheese, applesauce, frozen treats, and soup! Granted, few people want to be on a soft food diet forever, but when it’s prescribed for just a few days, favorite soft foods can be incredibly comforting. Unless they direct otherwise, plenty of doctors suggest that eating any soft comfort food that provides some nutrition and makes a patient feel good (emotionally and physically!) is a great way to go.
How Can I Support Someone Recovering from Surgery?
Surgery can take a lot out of a person, even when it’s a minor procedure. You can offer tremendous support for someone recovering from surgery just by covering the basics!
Start by taking care of simple tasks—from grocery pickup or laundry to helping with personal care like washing or styling their hair, putting water and reading materials nearby, or just making sure they’ve got blankets and care items within reach. Many people recovering from various surgeries are discouraged from bending over, lifting items that weigh more than a few pounds, or actions like vacuuming. Look around and take care of basic housework like putting away dishes, transferring laundry, or sweeping.
A less obvious (but so important) way to support someone after surgery is to be aware of the medical instructions they’ve been given. A lot of information is provided when someone is discharged from medical care, and it can be overwhelming (or easy to forget the details) when they’re tired, feeling after-effects of medications, and aren’t feeling great. As a close friend, neighbor, or family member, you can ask permission to read the patient’s medical instructions—and then help them follow through. Check in to see if they’ve taken medication, run to the pharmacy for prescriptions or other needs, encourage them to eat or drink as recommended, and just do some of the tasks the patient isn’t thinking about or may be embarrassed to ask.
Meals are an excellent way to provide support after surgery. Be considerate of the dietary restrictions they’ve been given. Work with other friends and family to make sure meals or grocery needs are taken care of.
Spoonful of Comfort was created as a way to help someone feel better, even when you can’t be there to give your support in person. Our soup care packages are delivered right to someone’s front door, some with soft-food-diet and recovery-friendly soup and rolls, and can even include add-on items that bring extra comfort and care.
What Can I Give Someone Who Is in the Hospital?
If you have a friend or family member in the hospital, you might be looking for post-surgery gift ideas to lift their spirits. Hospital rooms can be small and may limit the kinds of gifts you can send (for instance, some hospital areas prohibit flowers or certain balloons for patient safety concerns). Remember, the patient will have to carry home things they acquire in the hospital, too. (That can potentially add stress when being discharged.)
Instead, consider giving something small to make a hospital stay more comfortable and personal—a book you’d recommend, fuzzy socks, or simple toiletries. Many our of get well care packages can be sent directly to hospitals or recovery centers. It never hurts to ask the medical facility about their policies, or ask a patient if they’d prefer to receive something at home during recovery.
What Care Packages Does Spoonful of Comfort Have Available?
Spoonful of Comfort got its start bringing the comfort of soup to people who needed a little lift. And we’ve expanded that idea into a wide selection of Get Well care packages. You’ll find variations of our famous heat-and-eat soup meal. There are packages that center on being cozy and comfortable during recovery. And you can customize any get well care package with your own mix of edible and add-on items to make it just the right gesture of care.