A puréed diet is a texture-modified diet that people sometimes use if they have difficulty eating solid foods.
Foods for infants are often puréed, but adults can eat puréed foods, too.
For example, a puréed diet can be handy for people who have trouble chewing or swallowing, or those who have specific gut issues that require the texture of their foods to be modified.
Some people also choose to eat puréed foods as a way to lose unwanted weight.
In this article, we’ll discuss puréed foods, how to make them, whether they can help with weight loss, and who might want to use them.
A puréed diet is one in which all meals and snacks are served in a puréed consistency.
Purées require no chewing and are easier to swallow than solid foods.
As such, healthcare professionals often recommend a puréed diet for people who have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to swallow solid foods safely.
Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing problems. People with dysphagia may have difficulty forming a food bolus in their mouth or experience a delay when they try to swallow it.
This increases their risk of choking or breathing in food while they’re eating. It also makes it more difficult to eat enough, in turn increasing their risk of not getting enough nutrients (
While some evidence suggests otherwise, many healthcare professionals recommend a puréed diet to patients with dysphasia to reduce their risk of choking and potentially breathing food into their lungs while ensuring they meet their nutritional needs (
Many people with dysphagia end up eating a puréed diet daily (
Dysphagia can be persistent or come and go. It’s most common among older adults. However, younger people can also experience it, mostly as a side effect of certain medications or following an injury or surgery.
A puréed diet can also be useful if you have gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis is sometimes called stomach paralysis. It’s a digestive disorder that slows the passage of food from your stomach into your gut (
If you have this condition, you may experience bloating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and feel full very shortly after beginning to eat.
Gastroparesis is most common among people with type 1 diabetes. It also occurs in some people who have just had surgery or are taking certain types of medications, such as narcotics (
That said, about half of gastroparesis cases happen spontaneously, for no apparent reason (
In general, liquids tend to exit the stomach more rapidly than solids. Because of this, a liquid or puréed food diet is sometimes recommended for people with moderate to severe gastroparesis.
A puréed diet doesn’t require any chewing. This makes it particularly useful for people with missing or painful teeth, ill-fitting dentures, or those who need to temporarily limit the movement of their jaw, such as after a surgery.
Purées can also be useful for infants who have yet to develop the motor skills necessary to chew and swallow solid pieces of food safely. Many parents and caregivers introduce solid foods in puréed form.
A puréed food diet is useful for people with dysphagia, digestive disorders, or chewing difficulties. It may help also reduce the risk of choking or breathing food into the lungs and developing pneumonia as a result.
You can turn almost any food or meal into a purée, as long as you make sure that the resulting purée has a pudding-like consistency.
A well-balanced puréed diet will likely require a little extra planning. Fruits and vegetables may be the first types of foods that come to mind among most people who consider a puréed diet.
That said, relying too heavily on puréed foods comprising only fruits or vegetables may make it difficult for you to meet your daily nutrient needs.
Most notably, your diet would lack protein, which is key for metabolism, immunity, muscle repair, and appetite control. It’d also lack fat, which is needed for satiety, hormones, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, as well as micronutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin B12.
Instead, try puréeing the meals that you normally enjoy eating in their solid form. This will help ensure that your puréed diet is varied, flavorful, and meets your nutrient needs.
How to purée foods
You can turn almost any meal into a purée by using a food processor or blender. While puréeing it, add as much liquid to your meal as necessary for it to reach a pudding-like consistency.
If your purée is too thick, thin it with water, broth, or another liquid that matches the flavor profile of your meal. You can also pick more nourishing liquids, such as plant-based milk or dairy milk, or a vegetable sauce if you want to add additional nutrients to your meal.
Keep in mind that purées should always be thicker than liquids. Although you can eat both with a spoon, purées should hold their shape enough so that you can’t pour them like you can pour liquids. This consistency can help reduce the risk of breathing food into the lungs.
If your purée is too thin, try adding a thickening agent to help it reach a pudding-like consistency. Options include:
- potato flakes
- arrowroot powder
You can turn practically any meal or snack into a purée. To do so, prepare the meal as usual, then add a liquid to it, and blend it. Thicken or thin your purée as needed to achieve a pudding-like consistency.
Here are a few puréed meal and snack ideas to get you started.
- Soups. Considerlentil, split pea, and pumpkin and white bean soup. Simply prepare them as usual, then blend them with a hand mixer. Add a thickening agent if needed.
- Pasta. You can purée any of your favorites, such as spaghetti bolognese, macaroni and cheese, or penne with meat (or veggie) balls. Cook them as you normally would, add a little extra water or sauce, and blend the dish until it’s fully puréed.
- Scrambles. Scrambled egg or scrambled tofu work well, too. Blend them with a veggie broth. You can serve it with a side of toast blended with a little extra plant or dairy milk.
- Meat or veggie stews. Ratatouille, lentil dahl, and black bean stew are great options. Prepare as per the usual recipe, then blend them into a pudding-like consistency. Thin them with a little extra water or sauce if needed.
- Cooked breakfast cereal. Examples include cream of wheat, cooked breakfast quinoa, or oatmeal. Blend them with a nut butter and milk. Top with puréed fruit.
- Baked goods. You can try blending French toast, pancakes, muffins, or bread with fruit juice or milk.
- Mashed potato. Make this with white, sweet, or red potatoes, using milk, butter, or margarine to soften it. You can serve it with grated cheese (dairy or plant-based) or mixed with other puréed vegetables.
- Blended vegetables. Examples include corn, carrots, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers, and mushrooms. Cook as per usual and blend them with a little vegetable broth.
- Baked beans and peas. Baked black beans, chickpeas, or red kidney beans are great options. Blend them with a little water, tahini, oil, tomato sauce, or vegetable broth.
- Leafy vegetables. Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, or collards are all healthy choices. Chop in small pieces and boil them in a little vegetable broth. Blend them until smooth and thicken with potato flakes, as needed.
- Homemade sauces. These are great, especially more satisfying sauces, such as pesto, hummus, gravy, or peanut sauce. Thicken them with potato starch or arrowroot powder, if needed.
Note that yogurts and puddings can be eaten as is, without additional blending, unless toppings are added.
- Yogurt. The yogurt may be dairy- or plant-based. Add fresh fruit, nut butter, nuts, or seeds, and blend them. Sieve to remove skin and seeds from the fruit, if needed.
- Fruit smoothies. Blend frozen fruit with milk or ice cream. For extra nutrients, add protein powder, nuts, seeds, or even leafy greens. Sieve to remove skins and seeds, and add pectin to thicken, if needed.
- Puddings. Consider both homemade and store-bought options.
Of course, there’s no need to limit yourself to these options. Feel free to find creative ways to turn your favorite meals and snacks into tasty purées.
Almost any meal, side, or snack can be made into a purée. You can get creative in the kitchen by finding ways to purée your favorite solid foods.
A puréed diet can easily become monotonous. If you’re going to be eating a puréed diet for a long period, it’s important to spend some time making sure that the purées look appealing in addition to tasting good.
Herbs and spices not only add flavor to your meals but can also enhance their color. Whenever possible, try blending and serving foods of different colors separately to preserve their vibrancy.
For instance, blend your spaghetti bolognese separately from your leafy greens, so you end up with two brightly colored purées rather than one brown-colored purée.
Also, avoid overcooking the food so that its color remains as vibrant as possible. This will likewise help retain most of the food’s vitamins and minerals (
Finally, using a piping bag when plating your puréed meal can further enhance its visual appeal. Some people even use food-shaped molds to recreate the shape of the food when they serve it. Let your creativity run free!
Use herbs and spices, keep color combinations in mind, and avoid overcooking your foods to preserve their taste and visual appeal. Try using piping bags or food-shaped molds when plating your meals to make them look as delicious as they taste.
Some people may choose to eat puréed food in the hopes of losing weight. This is the idea behind the baby food diet, which rose in popularity around 2010 and mainly comprises puréed baby foods.
Replacing solid meals with puréed foods could help lower your daily calorie intake. In this way, like any reduced-calorie diet, a puréed diet may help you lose weight — at least in the short term while you can stick to it.
This would be especially true if your puréed meals contained lots of low calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and fewer higher calorie foods, such as refined grains, fats (e.g., oils, cream, nuts, and nut butters), and sugary foods.
Puréed foods can also taste blander, and their texture often makes them less appealing to eat, which may lead to eating less overall.
Indeed, one study among older adults with difficultly swallowing found that one of their most common criticisms of puréed food was its lack of appeal (
However, restricting calories alone, without making other lifestyle changes, is rarely an effective long-term strategy to lose weight (
In addition, lowering your calorie intake too drastically may cause you to lose muscle, which can slow your metabolism.
In turn, a slower metabolism makes maintaining weight loss more difficult. Thus, after a period of restrictive dieting, it is common to regain the weight you lost once you go back to eating like you used to (
Moreover, eating puréed foods just to lose weight is unlikely to be an effective long-term weight loss solution. Unless you make other lifestyle changes following this (or any) diet, you’re very likely to regain all the lost weight, if not more, once you start eating solids again.
Like any fad diet that results in a calorie deficit, a puréed food diet may help you lose some weight, at least in the short term. However, you’ll likely regain the lost weight, and perhaps even more, once you begin eating solids again.
A puréed food diet is a texture-modified diet that can be useful for people with dysphagia, gastroparesis, or chewing difficulties.
You can make almost any meal or snack into a purée by simply blending it with a little extra liquid, such as juice, water, or broth. Nevertheless, many people find that a puréed diet can very easily become monotonous.
By reducing your calorie intake, a puréed diet may help you lose some weight, at least in the short term. However, unless you make other lasting lifestyle changes, you’ll likely regain the weight, if not more, once you go back to eating solid foods.
Just one thing
Try this today: Turn your favorite stew into a puréed meal by blending it with a little extra sauce. Serve it with a side of your favorite brightly colored puréed veggies. For extra visual appeal, give these food-shaped molds a try.