Nutritional tips for a soft textured diet during cancer treatment

A softer textured diet can be helpful if:

  • It’s difficult to chew properly.
  • You have a sore and/or dry mouth.
  • You find eating tiring.
  • Your oesophagus is narrowed.

Note: If you have a problem with swallowing and have been advised to follow a textured diet by your speech therapist, please follow their advice.

What can I do?

  • Choose foods that are easier to chew and eat.
  • Choose foods that are moist may be easier to eat.
  • Cut crusts off bread.
  • Spread the bread generously with spread, margarine, or cream cheese. If you are having treatment to your oesophagus or you have an oesophageal stent, you may find it better to avoid bread as it can become stuck. Please follow advice given to you from your dietitian.

Choose soft, creamy fillings

  • Sweet: jam, chocolate spread, honey, fruit spread or mashed soft fruits
  • Savoury: cheese spread, cream cheese, pate, scrambled eggs, meat, egg or fish salad, hummus. Try a moist filling such as tuna mayonnaise or egg mayonnaise

Breakfast cereals such as Cornflakes, Weetabix and Shreddies can be softened in milk. You can add extra protein by adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of skimmed milk powder to 500ml full-fat milk.

Main meals

  • Choose softer textured meats such as chicken or turkey breast. You may find minced meat or skinless sausages easier to eat. Meat can be marinated to make it more tender or cooked in a slow cooker. You may find stews and casseroles easier to manage.
  • Steam or poach fish with a creamy sauce.
  • Tinned chickpeas or beans are often softer than soaked dried beans and easy easier to use. Red lentils or split peas can be used to make dal.
  • Add generous amounts of gravy, hot or cold sauces like tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, or apple sauce to make food even smoother and taste better.


  • Choose soft, well-cooked vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, peas, carrots, courgettes, creamed spinach, red cabbage, beetroot, pumpkin, squash, and beans like kidney beans.
  • Boiling vegetables can make them extra soft. After draining, add a knob of butter or a splash of cream or cream cheese for more energy, or mix the cooked vegetables with a sauce.
  • Avoid stringy vegetables such as green beans and celery.

Potatoes, rice, pasta

  • Long grain rice can be difficult to swallow. You may find round grain rice such as risotto easier.
  • Cook potatoes well and mash with plenty of butter, olive oil or cream cheese. Add extra butter, crème fraîche, mayonnaise or oil to soften the food.
  • Cook pasta until soft and add a generous amount of sauce.


Soup can be low in protein and calories. Adding pureed meat, lentils or beans can boost the protein content. Try grating cheese into a vegetable or tomato soup.

Make cooking easier

If you don’t have the energy to cook and do your own shopping, you can use ready-made meals. It’s also possible to use meal preparation services that can deliver meals to your home that meet your needs. On days when you have more energy, you can prepare enough meals for several days and freeze them for later. You may also be able to ask friends or family to prepare meals for you to keep in your freezer.


  • Savoury: cheese spread triangles or hummus
  • Sweet: full-fat yoghurt, rice pudding or custard pots, fromage frais or individual desserts such as fruit fools

Get more advice on mouth issues during cancer treatment

> What can I do if I have a dry mouth during cancer treatment?

> Nutritional tips for thickened secretions forming in mouth and throat during cancer treatment

> Nutritional tips for a sore mouth

In association with

NIHR cancer and nutrition collaboration logo


British Dietetic Association logo