Best soft food for the elderly
In this article I will give a comprehensive list of the best soft food ideas for elderly people and discuss why these choices are particularly good for overall nutrition as well as retention of muscle mass and strength.
Last updated May 2021
As we age there are numerous things that can happen that make eating more difficult. It's hard for a younger person to comprehend the eating struggles that elderly people often encounter.
But it is a pretty common issue and it can lead to unhealthy outcomes such as weight loss and malnutrition.
You might be here on behalf on an elderly relative, friend or loved one who is struggling with their diet. It might also be worth checking out my high Calorie drinks for elderly as well. Click HERE to view.
Lets take a look at some great soft, nutritious and easy to chew foods for the elderly and seniors.
Click on each suggestion for more ideas such as meals/toppings/product recommendations/serving suggestions etc
- Soft Fruit
- Ready meals
- Soft vegetables
- Cottage cheese
- Protein shakes
Oats are a fantastic option for soft and nutritious food for elderly people.
They contain a good amount of fibre which is crucial to overall health and can help with digestion.
The fact that lots of elderly people who struggle with diet often suffer with constipation makes oats a great option because of the fibre content.
Oats are also really diverse. You can mix in lots of other foods to make it taste nicer and to add in other nutrients. For example you could add in a handful of berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) which are also nice and soft and pack a fantastic nutritional punch.
If you're struggling to eat enough food then try adding in a spoonful of peanut butter. This will add lots of extra Calories and makes the porridge really tasty (assuming you like peanut butter of course).
You could also add in other condiments such as jam or honey.
Porridge is really simple to make, you can microwave it or heat it up on the stove.
Its simplicity can make it an attractive option for elderly people who struggle with mobility or frailty.
However, for particularly frail elderly people lifting heavy pots onto the stove might be a no go. Try using these great single portion porridge pots where you just add boiling water.
This is another great porridge product. Fuel 10k do these great high protein porridge pots. All you have to do is add boiling water and stir. Having a good quantity of good quality protein as an elderly person is essential for helping to preserve muscle mass and strength.
Click to purchase 8 pots of golden syrup flavoured porridge for £5.87 from Amazon. They lots of other flavours as well.
You can get really adventurous when it comes to adding other foods to porridge. I had a personal training client who added a piece of apple pie to their bowl of porridge.
Needless to say, I tried it and it was delicious. Also, although porridge is traditionally seen as a breakfast food, don't be afraid to have to at any time of day.
Sometimes I have a bowl of porridge before going bed if I'm really hungry.
Also, a smaller kettle might be easier and safer to lift for a frail elderly person. Take a look at this 0.85 litre compact kettle.
There are lots of different brands with differing prices so have a browse.
Yogurt is a great soft food option for elderly people to include in their diet.
Dairy sometimes gets a bad reputation as an unhealthy food but that couldn't be further from the truth. Dairy products are packed with nutrients.
They are also a great source of protein, which as we now know, is essential for older adults to retain muscle mass and strength. There are lots of types of yogurt you can choose from.
I would opt for Greek yogurt over natural yogurt as it goes through a straining process which ultimately gives it a far higher protein content.
However if you prefer natural yogurt thats fine.
I actually like to add a scoop of protein powder to my natural yogurt to increase it's protein content. It mixes in really well and it's really tasty.
This might be preferential to buying Greek yogurt because natural yogurt is typically much cheaper. You can check out my recommended protein powder products here.
Just like porridge, you can add other things to yogurt such as berries or soft fruit options, jams or honey. Yogurt makes for a great breakfast option or a great soft snack for elderly people.
I've already talked about adding soft fruits to things like porridge and yogurt but fruit is also a great stand alone option. Of course fruit is packed with essential vitamins and minerals and is hugely important as part of a healthy diet.
It's also really good for increased hydration which lots of elderly people suffer with. It's not always easy to remember to drink water regularly and so eating fruit is a great way to aid in staying hydrated.
Of course there are lots of different fruits you can eat. I suggest trying to add a variety of different ones to your diet. Good examples might include:
- Kiwi Fruit
There's a great company called Oddbox that delivers "odd" shaped fruit and vegetable boxes to your door.
Because of their odd shape they wouldn't make it to supermarket shelves and so you can purchase them at a good price.
Click HERE to have a look at the Oddbox website.
I'm also a big fan of bananas.
They have a good amount of potassium which is an electrolyte important for hydration. Lots of elderly people struggling with diet also struggle with staying hydrated so small things can be really helpful.
These days you can buy an amazing array of soups from your local supermarket. And not just tins of soup either.
Head over to the fridge section and you'll find loads of fresh soups that just need to be popped into the microwave for a few minutes.
Of course you can cook them on the stove as well. In general these fresh soups are more nutritious than tinned soups but they are pricer. Tinned soups are fine but I would try and go for vegetable based ones. Even vegetables in tins contain some nutrients.
Or you could choose any tinned soup and steam a portion of vegetables to go on the side. There are lots of places to buy great soups online and have them delivered to door.
Abel & Cole have a fantastic variety of great soups and broths at varying prices. Of course you can always stock up on some soups when you shop at your local store.
Once upon a time ready meals had a reputation of being unhealthy and fattening.
That's definitely not the case these days. In fact some ready meals these days are absolutely fantastic. Excellent quality and very nutritious.
Your local supermarket will have a wide variety of ready meals and you can buy them fresh or frozen. It doesn't really matter. Lots of them will be soft food options such pasta, cottage pie, shepherds pie, fish pie etc.
Most of them can be microwaved making them very easy to prepare and cook. And because you can freeze them you can stock up and take your pick when it comes to lunch or dinner.
This company called Cook delivers fantastic frozen meals which you can simply heat up in your oven or microwave. And I can't stress just how good they are.
They have every type of meal you can think of including main meals and puddings.
Check out their website and take your pick of softer options to stock up your freezer. Ready meals are also amazing for those who struggle to cook due to limited mobility or frailty.
I know lots of elderly people who keep a few ready meals stocked up in their freezer. It gives reassurance to loved ones that nutritious meals are being eaten.
It's also nice to know that if you're loved one has home care assistance then they will be getting a good nutritious meal prepared for them
Smoothies are one my favourite ways to easily add nutrients into my own diet. I have one daily.
The thought of making a smoothie can seem daunting, especially if your or a loved one is frail. The idea of lifting heavy blenders out of the cupboard is big no no.
However, these days there are some amazing products available that make it just so easy.
The Nutribullet is a personal favourite of mine. It has a tiny base that can easily just on the counter top just like a kettle would. You fill the jug up with ingredients, screw the lid on, turn it upside down and stick it in the base to blend it up. It really is very simple.
And there are SO many different smoothie recipes to choose from.
A personal favourite of mine is:
-A handful of frozen berries
-A scoop of whey protein powder
Here's video of me showing you exactly how to make my favourite smoothie with a handheld blender.
If you can't see the video click here to view it on Youtube.
Really simple ingredients that require next to no preparation which pack a protein rich nutritional and calorific punch to the diet. The use of frozen fruit can be really helpful as well.
Lot's of people think that frozen fruit contain less nutrients than fresh fruit when in fact it often contains more. Frozen fruit is often packaged and frozen straight from the production line meaning there is little time for oxidation which is what causes loss of nutrients.
The other great thing about frozen fruit is that you can buy a big bag of it that will last a while. It's really easy to just grab the bag out of the freezer and pour some frozen fruit into your smoothie.
You can buy a NutriBullet from Amazon for around £60.00
Soft vegetable for elderly people
We all know that veggies are a really important part of a healthy diet. And as a nutritionist, I can't highlight this fact enough.
Veggies are really important for overall health. The thing is they're not always all that easy to prepare. It often involves heavy pans of boiling water and cutting up the veggies into suitable sized pieces.
Things that are not necessarily easy for those who are frail and lack mobility. However there are ways to make cooking veggies easier. A few years I discovered frozen microwavable veggie bags.
You can buy them in your local supermarket. They are essentially little bags of veggies (single portions) that you can stick straight into the microwave to steam them.
They couldn't be easier to cook. And, because they're steamed not many nutrients are lost from the cooking process. They're a great way to cook soft vegetables for elderly people.
Make sure you look out of them next time you go shopping. You can also buy microwavable steam bags to put you own veggies in and steam other foods such as fish. veggies in and steam other foods such as fish.
Vegetables can be eaten anytime of day and make a great side for lots of meals.
I often have a side of veggies with soup for example. And I normally add some Salad Cream or sweet chilli sauce to make them extra tasty.
Eggs are a personal favourite of mine.
They are incredibly diverse and go with so many other foods. Not only that, they are also extremely nutritious and a great source of protein.
Once upon a time eggs were demonised because of the high cholesterol content of egg yolk. However, more recent nutritional science has discovered that dietary cholesterol doesn't have the effect on blood cholesterol that was once thought.
You can learn more about the latest on eggs from THIS incredible story board created by Physiquonomics.
Eggs are a great option at any time of the day and of course can be boiled, scrambled, poached or fried.
For those who might struggle with heavy pans check out this great product below. It can boil or poach eggs and make omelettes. All 3 are brilliant soft food options.
Cottage cheese is a fantastic option that had a great protein content. Personally, I can eat it straight from the pot but of course it ca be added as an addition to to other meals.
Just like other dairy products it also contain calcium as well other lots of other essential nutrients. It's cheap, tasty, super easy to prepare and eat and should be part of any elderly/frail persons shopping list.
So, more of a drink than a food but milk can play a huge role in boosting the nutritional value of your diet. It may technically be a liquid but milk does contain a great protein content, an array of essential nutrients and Calories.
Milk also happens to have an incredible ratio of electrolytes meaning it's fantastic for hydration. In fact it's so good it often out performs more specialised post sport recovery drinks.
Depending on what type of milk you buy the nutrient value will vary slightly. Essentially, full fat milk will ultimately pack the most amount of nutrients including Calories and protein.
For an elderly person who is struggling to maintain weight the full fat milk option might be the best one. If you're unsure then you can stick with the middle ground and choose semi-skimmed.
It's obviously very easy to prepare and consume a glass of milk making it a great option for frail people who might struggle with other more challenging food and drink options.
I often advise Wise Fitness Academy members to include a glass of milk at breakfast to help boost the protein content for that meal. Milk can also be used a snack or a drink to accompany a meal.
Also, I'm referring to regular cows milk here. Plant based milks (such as almond, and soy milk) are entirely different products and have an entirely different nutrient profile. Less protein and less nutrients.
Protein shakes for the elderly
I'm a huge advocate of protein shakes for the elderly and older adult population.
There is a real issue of under eating protein among the elderly demographic which is exacerbating the issues of frailty and loss of independence in older age.
Protein is absolutely essential for muscle and strength retention in the elderly. Protein shakes are a fantastically convenient way to more good quality protein into the diet.
At the moment, there are no protein powder/drinks companies that market their products to the older adult demographic. However, protein is protein so it doesn't matter that the protein product you buy has a muscly 20 year old on the tub.
I wrote an entire article on recommended protein drinks for elderly people as well detailing exactly what protein is, how much you should be having and to measure how much you're having in THIS article.
Quiche is a great option for lunch or dinner and it goes with lots of other foods nicely as well. Try serving it with a portion of steamed veggies and/or a dollop of cottage cheese.
If you looking for some soft dinners for elderly people then quiche is a great option.
Because it usually contains egg quiche generally has good protein content and can normally be served hot or cold. Having it cold means minimal preparation. Nice and easy and really tasty.
Lets take a look at WHY the elderly sometimes struggle with eating.
Why do elderly people sometimes struggle to eat harder foods?
- Dentures/oral discomfort
This study found that 1 in 5 elderly people reported that some kind of oral condition prevents them from choosing a food they want or desire. You may be able to relate to some of the more common denture discomforts which includes sore spots or having dentures that don't fit properly. Some elderly people are fearful that their dentures will break if they eat hard or chewy foods such as meat or stringy vegetables. For those who simply cannot eat with dentures or who really struggle with them, softer food options can be really helpful.
- Loss of appetite
A suppressed appetite is not uncommon in elderly people. Loss of appetite can be due to several reasons including reduced taste and smell, social isolation, depression, reduced saliva production and difficulty swallowing. In this event having softer food choices or even nourishment drinks can be hugely helpful for getting Calories and nutrients into the diet. I will make some good liquid food suggestions as part of the list.
- Difficulty with food preparation
Difficulty with food preparation, which might be caused by frailty for example, can cause problems for elderly people to eat a balanced diet. In this instance, having a range of easy to prepare, soft foods can be useful to ensure an elderly person does get the required nutrients they need.
These are just a handful of common reasons why you or your elderly loved one might be struggling with their diet and could benefit from softer food options.
This article is constantly being updated with new ideas so make sure you check back in with us.
Please note: Some of links provided on this article are affiliate links which will generate The Wise Academy revenue when used.