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What to Eat When You Have Little to No Chewing Ability

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What to eat when you have a difficult time chewing.

What to eat when you have a difficult time chewing.

When Soft Food Diets Aren't Enough

When you lose your ability to chew for whatever reason, you probably wind up googling "soft food" or something similar to that. You get all these articles about what people ate when they got their wisdom teeth taken out.

But maybe you're like me and this isn't about wisdom teeth. Maybe you can't chew at all because you've lost the majority or all of your molars. Maybe your teeth are constantly in pain and they can't be easily fixed. Maybe you have difficulty swallowing or a disease that forces you to eat super soft food.

That's why I decided to write this article, so you can find food options, even when a soft food diet sometimes seems too hard to chew (for instance, I ate a banana today and it hurt a bit to chew it.) But that doesn't mean I have to starve.

These foods were chosen because you don't have to chew them. You don't have to risk choking anymore if your teeth can't shred pieces of food properly. They are easy for you to swallow.

Guacamole (without tomatoes and onions) is a safe bet!

Guacamole (without tomatoes and onions) is a safe bet!

You Don't Have to Eat Like a Baby

This is something that terrifies me. I see baby food and I just can't eat any of that stuff.

I've lost most of my ability to chew. What little ability I have left, I try to use as little as possible. My teeth need their rest. If they chew too much, I am in excruciating pain.

This is a list of foods in all food groups that you can eat even if you can't chew. I know it's important to have variety and food that tastes good to be happy.

I also know it's important for nutrition. As a diabetic, I am supposed to be extra careful to eat a balanced diet, so I can't just eat carbohydrates and dessert all day. I need vegetables and protein.

Spices and Sauces Are Important

To make your food more satisfying, be generous with spices and sauces. Sauces will help the food go down easier and spices will help it taste better (which also helps it go down easier.) Melted butter is also very helpful for adding flavor and making things softer.

Some Examples of Spices and Sauces You Can Use Are

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Mrs. Dash
  • Marinara sauce
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Ranch
  • Nacho Cheese
  • Gravy
  • Salad Dressing
  • Marinade
  • Ketchup
  • Stir Fry Sauce

There is so much more than what is on this list, so be creative!

Soft Muffins

Soft Muffins

I. Carbohydrates

1. Mashed Potatoes - This is pretty much the first food everyone thinks of when they think of eating something you don't have to chew, but most people don't add any creativity to it. Mashed potatoes can have a lot of variety. For instance, you can add butter, salt, and pepper or gravy-like what's traditional. Or to give yourself some protein, you can put non-chunky chili and/or melted cheese on top.

2. Macaroni & Cheese - I can no longer chew long noodles, so I can't eat pasta like spaghetti. That's what's good about Macaroni and Cheese, it's so small that you can just swallow it if you want. The best mac and cheese is the one that comes in spirals. Overcook it for a couple of minutes and then add the butter, milk, and cheese. It comes out pretty mushy, more than most mac & cheese does.

You can also add some protein to this by cutting hot dogs into the tiniest pieces you can and adding them to the mixture. I've done this before and my husband loved it.

3. Grits - I honestly don't eat grits, but I know this is an option. Like mashed potatoes, you can be creative by adding certain spices or toppings to make it taste better. Most people add butter, salt, and pepper. Other ideas are adding crumbled bacon (but it has to be crumbled in really, really tiny pieces, garlic, cheese, eggs, gravy, etc. There's a lot of ideas if you google it.) Grits also come in a variety of flavors that include some of these things.

4. Polenta - Polenta is very similar to grits. My Mom used to love to eat it and she liked to call it "Corn Meal Mush." She ate it with salt, pepper, and melted cheese. Like grits and mashed potatoes, it can be made in a variety of ways, but since it's not very common food, here's a recipe for "perfect polenta":

5. Oatmeal - Oatmeal is always a good choice. It's warm and satisfying. Like a lot of foods on this list, it comes in a variety of flavors, like strawberry cream or brown sugar maple syrup. I'd recommend unless you are just adding syrup, honey, or sugar, that you stick with the flavor packs rather than adding fruit of your own because fruit can be very difficult to chew.

The other good thing about oatmeal is it gives you some fiber. It's very difficult to get any fiber on a soft food diet.

6. Soggy Cereal - This might sound gross at first, but I've tried it and it's delicious. When you pour yourself a bowl of cereal, instead of digging in right away, make sure all the pieces of cereal are pushed down and soaking in milk, wait about five to ten minutes before eating.

Some cereal works better than others for this. You'll still have to chew cheerios for instance, even if they are soggy. But rice crispies and cocoa/fruity pebbles work great because they are very small and easy to swallow. They also get really soggy.

7. White Rice - Make sure to add something to flavor it. A really good choice is butter or soy sauce to make it mushier, but don't forget spices! Rice is very small, so you really don't have to chew it much or at all before swallowing it.

8. Muffins - Muffins may be a little hard to chew, but with a glass of milk or water that you use to soak the muffin in your mouth with each bite, you should be fine. Don't eat muffins with hard things in them like nuts or chocolate chips. Poppy seeds should be fine and blueberries might work because cooking the blueberries makes them very soggy. But it depends on your mouth and what your limitations are.

There are many flavors of muffins you can try. For instance: bran, lemon poppy seed, banana (but make sure to leave out the nuts!)

9. Creamed Corn - I've never had creamed corn before, but this is something people often think of someone eating who has dentures or bad teeth. It's worth a try!

Make sure vegetables are cooked to the point of being extremely soft.

Make sure vegetables are cooked to the point of being extremely soft.

II. Protein

1. Peanut Butter With A Spoon - Peanut Butter is great because you can eat it straight from the jar and it's still delicious! You also don't have to chew it.

2. Egg Salad - The mayonnaise and mustard in egg salad make it mushy and soft enough to eat without really chewing. If you can eat it on bread, then great, so for it, but if that's too much like it probably is for most people, it can also be good to eat by itself.

3. Scrambled Eggs - Scrambling your eggs makes it softer than if you fry it. Cutting it into tiny pieces (so you can just swallow it if need be) and adding ketchup or hot sauce will also make it easier to eat.

4. Chicken And Gravy - I have to make this in a very specific way to be able to eat it. First, I buy a whole chicken and cook it in the oven (with all the seasonings.) I do this because baking whole chickens make chicken softer than just getting the breast and frying it or something. I could never chew that. When it's done cooking, I shred it into tiny chunks (really tiny if I can't chew at all, a little chunkier if I can kind of chew.) Because the chicken is so soft, it's actually fairly easy to do this using your hand. (I prefer my hand over a food processor whenever possible.)

I make gravy by frying butter with a little bit of flour. (Just enough flour to soak up most of the butter, but the flour should seem creamy and yellow.) I add a lot of salt and pepper. Then I add chicken brother and milk, a little at a time each until it combines together and becomes the right consistency.

I mix all of this together and it tastes really delicious and it's easy to chew or swallow.

5. Sloppy Joe's - I love Sloppy Joe's so much that I can eat the sloppy joe even without the bun. If you puree the hamburger a little (you don't have to do it all the way, so there's a little bit of chunk and it tastes less like baby food, I only do this because frying it alone makes huge chunks and this can break things down to tiny chunks), then add the sloppy joe canned mixture, it tastes really good. The sauce makes it easy to swallow.

If you prefer or get bored with this, you can also do the same thing with spaghetti sauce.

6. Refried Beans - Add cheese, hot sauce, salt, pepper, whatever you like to refried beans. It can be a delicious way to get both protein and carbohydrates into your system.

7. Chili - I used canned chili. Homemade chili tends to be chunky and you want something that resembles more of a soup. I usually add chili to things as a flavorful topping, like mashed potatoes, but you can also eat it by itself with some melted cheese on top.

8. Tamales - Technically, this is also a carbohydrate, but it has protein in the middle, too, that you can benefit from.

You won't be able to eat most tamales, unfortunately. Cheese ones are probably your best bet. Also, I buy XLNT brand tamales at the grocery store and although they have beef in the middle, it's very mushy and required zero chewing.

Raw veggies are a no-go.

Raw veggies are a no-go.

III. Vegetables

1. Cauliflower Mash - A lot of people eat these as a low carb alternative to mashed potatoes. You can top it with any of the toppings you would put on mashed potatoes and just pretend you are eating that instead of a vegetable.

2. Mashed Yams/Mashed Carrots - Most vegetables I wouldn't suggest mashing, but yams are pretty much like potatoes, so it's not as big of deal. For either of these, to flavor it, you can add any of these things: salt, pepper, butter, brown sugar, and/or maple syrup. With the right flavorings, it won't be so bad.

3. V8 Juice - The cool thing about V8 juice these days, is it comes in a variety of flavors. I've seen the original, spicy, and green juice flavors at the store (but I believe there are many more.) There's also fruit versions of v8 juice called v8 splash that come in a variety of flavors. Some of the flavors also have vegetables in them.

Drinking v8 juice is not going to be very filling because it's a liquid, but it will give you some of the nutrients that you would otherwise be missing.

4. Guacamole - If you're reading this list then you probably can't eat either chips or avocados, but the lemon juice and mashing makes the avocados mushier. You can eat it straight if you enjoy avocado.

5. Hummus - You won't be able to dip anything into it, but you can still enjoy the taste of it.

Cook down fruits and veggies.

Cook down fruits and veggies.

IV. Fruit

1. Applesauce - The cool thing about applesauce is it comes in a variety of flavors. Not just original and cinnamon either. I mean that if you look at the applesauce section, they'll have different fruits they made into a type of sauce, like strawberries, for instance. My husband eats applesauce all the time and loves the variety.

2. Cut Up Or Mashed Bananas - I can still sort of chew whole bananas, but cutting them up into little pieces or mushing them completely can really make them easier to eat. If you hate bananas, this will sound like a disgusting idea, but if you love them, it's great!

3. Smoothies - The best part about smoothies is that you can add peanut butter, protein powder, or vegetables to it to make it even more nutritional or filling. Another great thing about smoothies is that they sell them at a lot of fast food places, like McDonald's, so you can even get them on the go if you're starving.

There is also pretty much a limitless amount of recipes for smoothies, so you can get a ton of variety. There are basic flavors like strawberry banana and more complicated flavors as well.

4. Fruit Juice - This is an obvious choice. It's not very filling because it's a liquid. but it can add some vitamins to your diet. Just make sure it's actually made with real juice and not just an imitation.

Milkshakes are a great option!

Milkshakes are a great option!

V. Dairy

1. Yogurt - If you eat yogurt with fruit added in the packaging, then the fruit is very soft and you don't even have to chew it to eat it. Thanks to companies like Yoplait, there's a variety of flavors now, instead of just vanilla and fruit, like Boston cream pie and orange cream (made to taste like a creamsicle.) Just be careful not to get any flavors that have crunchy toppings.

2. Milk - While this isn't really a food, it's more of a drink, it can really help when it comes to feeling full if you eat it with a meal.

3. Melted Cheese - If you melt some cheese on any of the foods listed in other parts of this article, you can add protein, calcium, and a lot of flavor to what you are eating.

Broth is always a tasty option.

Broth is always a tasty option.

VI. Other

1. Broth - I am not a big fan of broth on its own, but you can sip it if you like as if you are drinking tea.

2. Soup - You won't be able to eat every soup and you probably can't eat stews. People get confused and think that because it's soup that you can for sure swallow it, but that isn't true. You'll want to mostly stick with creamy soups that have no chunks in them. Tomato soup is also good and certain split pea soups are as well. But you can use them to put little chunks of crackers in (and don't eat them until they get really soggy.)

3. From the Can - This isn't going to make you very full and you're probably not going to want to do this a lot, but at least it's something else that you can possibly eat. There are certain liquid foods that you can get from a can and eat straight.

  • Easy Cheese
  • Whipped Cream
Homemade cake is delicious but leave out the nuts.

Homemade cake is delicious but leave out the nuts.

VII. Deserts

1. Milkshakes - Milkshakes are an obvious thing you can have when you can't chew. Plus, they're delicious.

2. Pudding - The great thing about pudding is you can get it either ready-made or make it yourself. If you want to make it into a meal and not just a dessert, I suggest getting the kind you cook over the stovetop. Eat it while it's still warm. My Mom used to make this for me all of growing up. It makes it more filling. It makes it feel more like you're eating soup than pudding.

3. Cake - Cake actually falls apart in your mouth without you having to really chew it. It's pretty light and nice that way. Don't get snack cakes, this should only be a cake that you make at home. Snack cakes are much harder to chew. Also, don't add any nuts or anything like that to it.

4. Ice Cream - Ice cream is another obvious choice for a dessert! It comes in lots of different flavors, but again, avoid the kinds with chunks in them. Even marshmallows will be harder to chew now that they are frozen.

5. Sorbet or Sherbet - This is like ice cream, but fruitier.

6. Hot Chocolate - I know, I know, more of a drink than a food, but it makes you feel warmer and fuller inside.

7. Fancy Coffee - Honestly, a lot of the frappuccinos and things like that at places like Starbucks seem more like milkshakes with lots of caffeine in them than coffee.

8. Jello - Jello has a lot of flavors and can taste really good. But I don't recommend eating it by itself for a meal. It's not very filling. And don't add any fruit pieces to it. Adding whipped cream can make it a lot better!

9. Popsicles - Ice cream on a stick!

10. Hostess Donuts And Pastries - If I pull these apart and into little pieces, I've been able to eat these and dissolve them in my mouth using just my gums.

Additional Tips

There's also quite a bit of food that you can suck on and dissolve in your mouth so you don't have to chew it. I didn't add these to the list because I only wanted to add things that you can just swallow without any chewing at all.

It works best with bread products and is even easier to accomplish if you eat your food with a mouthful of some kind of drink at the same time you are sucking on it to further breakdown the food without chewing.

For instance, you can put a cracker in your mouth and take a sip of water. It will dissolve fairly quickly. I've done this a lot. Or oreo cookies with a mouthful of milk. Or a donut with a mouthful of coffee.

But you might not be able to do this trick if your teeth are too far along.

The examples I gave above are mostly basic things you can whip up easily to eat. This woman specializes in creating more complicated recipes for people who can't chew. I recommend watching her videos and seeing if any of the food appeals to you.

Check Back On This List Regularly

I am very passionate about coming up with new meal plans, so I don't get bored even though I can hardly chew. I come up with new ideas all the time.

I will be updating these lists every time I come up with something new, so return here for ideas (when you can't think of what to eat) and to check for updates.

You may not like all the suggestions listed, but you'll probably find at least one thing in every category that you enjoy.

Update: Now that I have a full set of dentures and no longer have any teeth, I have experienced eating meals with only my gums available to chew with. This happens sometimes when my dentures break and I have to give them to the dentist for about a week to wait for the repair. It has caused me to explore new things to try to eat without teeth that I can now add to the list.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 EB Black