Known as bland diet It is one of the best known therapeutic diets and recommended by health professionals. Such is its popularity, that it is almost associated with a kind of grandmother’s remedies, self-prescribed for treat digestive upset more common. Its guidelines are simple, but that familiarity can lead us to make common mistakes, often caused by the lack of updating in the health system itself.
It should be clarified that the very popular term ‘soft diet’ can cause confusion, since it is not about eating necessarily soft or easily chewed foods. It is a gastric protection diet, easily digestible, which normally does not extend beyond a few days. It is not intended to be maintained in the medium or long term.
Three keys to decipher the labeling of any food
What is it and what is it recommended for?
The soft diet is prescribed when the digestive system needs to recover after passing a specific illness, disease or situation. It is normally associated with the process of recovery after suffering a gastroenteritis, viral infections, episodes of diarrhea and / or vomiting, or food poisoning. It is also common to prescribe it in the postoperative period or as an adaptation phase to regain tolerance to food.
The objective is that the digestive system, weakened, works as little as possible, and can regain its normal functioning. For this, it is sought minimize waste, which are those that stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and can cause more or less serious discomfort, such as those suffered by a person with food intolerances.
In this way, very heavy, fatty, spicy, exciting or very satiating meals are avoided. Essentially, it is a astringent diet very low in fiber, also avoiding lactose and raw and fatty foods.
Depending on the specific situation of each person, the diet can be more or less strict. The main thing is ensure proper hydration, especially in the first phase, through the pharmacy serum or a homemade alkaline lemonade, with lemon juice, water, bicarbonate and a little sugar. Solid foods will be introduced little by little, observing the tolerance and response of the organism, preferably under medical supervision.
General tips for following a bland diet
Before reviewing the foods included and excluded, it is advisable to consider a series of general advice to properly cope with this therapeutic diet.
- Keep the constant hydration, either with pharmacy serum or with water or infusions, drinking in small amounts but constantly throughout the day. Avoid making the liquid very cold or very hot.
- Introduce the food slowly, ensuring that they are varied to meet basic nutritional needs.
- Eat in small amounts each time, but increasing the frequency throughout the day. Avoid spending many hours without eating solid food, except in a very strict first phase.
- Eat slowly, in a quiet environment, chewing each bite well.
- Get rid of completely alcohol, coffee, tea, soft drinks and commercial juices, also the most acidic homemade ones.
- No Smoking.
- Cook with very little salt, few spices and very little fat, using extra virgin olive oil in minimal quantities.
- Prioritize gentle cooking techniques and light, such as boiling, microwave, steam and, with care, the iron.
- Avoid sweet or added sugars,
- Eat the food tibia.
- Rest after each meal.
Foods included and vegan alternatives
Remember that a soft diet is based on foods that promote smooth and light digestion, which do not require great efforts from the digestive system. Therefore, fiber and fat are limited to the maximum.
Refined cereals. White rice is the most common and the one that is best tolerated, but wheat or bulgur, millet, corn or couscous can also be included, as long as they are not in a whole grain version. They can be in the form of cooked grain or in derivatives such as pasta, semolina or flours. We include bread, again white, better if it is reduced in salt, and other products such as biscuits, crunchy breads or crackers with the minimum of additives (avoiding snack types rich in fats, salt and sugars).
Lean meats. Chicken and turkey breasts are the most recommended, cooked or boiled, or in a grill or baked with the minimum of fat, of course without skin.
White fish. Again, steamed, boiled, baked, grilled or in papillote, choosing the leanest pieces (hake, whiting, cod, sole, monkfish, rooster).
Homemade broth. Without salt or with very little quantity, preferably vegetables or with a little lean poultry meat, removing any possible fat, or fish. It can help hydrate.
Cooked vegetables or creams. Start with carrot cooked or mashed in puree or cream, and introduce other light vegetables according to tolerance. Potato, pumpkin, sweet potato and zucchini, better without skin, are good options.
Eggs. Introduce the white first to check the tolerance. Avoiding frying and slightly curdled preparations, prioritize the boiled egg or a light French omelette.
Plain yogurt. It is advisable to avoid all dairy products in a more acute phase of the recovery process, but yogurt can be tolerated very soon thanks to the ferments that it incorporates. You have to choose authentic and 100% natural yogurt, without any added ingredient or additive.
Light dairy. If yogurt is well tolerated, try adding some low-fat and low-salt fresh cheese, such as cottage cheese, cottage or Burgos type, also quark or whipped fresh cheese, always natural.
Cooked or roasted fruits. Avoid acidic fruits such as citrus fruits and berries, and prioritize those that are richer in pectins, preferably removing the skin, such as apple and pear. Banana is usually well tolerated raw, but making sure it is ripe, softer. Cooked or roasted quince is also a good option.
Vegetables. Especially for vegetarians and vegans; It is recommended to use only peeled legumes (red lentils, skinless lentils, peeled split peas …), cooked and mashed in puree, optionally with any of the mentioned vegetables.
Natural fresh tofu. Test your tolerance by consuming it in its softest and freshest version, without any added ingredients or further processing. Silken-type tofu is very creamy and has a very pleasant taste; if it is firmer, it can be cooked lightly on the grill.
Seitan. Also in its most natural version, without seasoning or processing; only for those who tolerate gluten well.
Vegetable drinks. Start with almond milk and rice drink, always natural without sweetening or sweetening, and try to introduce others such as oatmeal or quinoa before soybeans.
Extra virgin olive oil. In very moderate amounts, preferably just for seasoning before serving and adding some flavor, or with a minimal amount for cooking.
Top foods to avoid
Against the outdated guidelines and myths that still linger in the collective health and imaginary sphere, ultra-processed products, sweets and pastries, and soft drinks or any industrial beverage should be avoided. The foods that the soft diet excludes are, therefore, all those that are not included in the previous section.
- Ultra-processed cold meat. Cooked or York-type ham is usually well tolerated and easy to consume, that is why it continues to be used, but it is preferable to consume chicken or natural turkey cooked at home. Even so, if for convenience you prefer to use the commercial product, read the label very well and choose a product with a percentage of meat greater than 90%, reduced in salt, lactose-free and without added sugars.
- Fatty, red meat or fatty parts of poultry, and sausages.
- Blue fish and shellfish.
- Whole grains and their derivatives.
- Cookies, muffins, breakfast cereals, biscuits or any other sweet, homemade or commercial.
- Spicy sauces, vinegars and seasonings.
- Pickles and salty or sugary snacks.
- Raw vegetables and green leafy vegetables, cabbages and high fiber (raw or cooked).
- Raw or highly acidic fruits.
- Chocolates, chocolates, cocoa, chewing gum or candy.
- Alcoholic drinks.
- Coffee and tea.
- Milk and fatty cheeses.
- Dairy desserts, smoothies or sweetened yogurts.
- Active bifidus-type drinks, which are usually sugary or sweetened.
- Acid commercial or homemade juices.
- Fried or battered foods.
- Legumes with skin.
Recipes for planning a bland diet menu
The panorama posed by a soft diet can be demotivating, and even more so after suffering a disease such as gastroenteritis that weakens the body so much. To help you get through these days of recovery, here are some suggestions recipes that can be adapted to this therapeutic diet.
- Homemade chicken broth, without fat.
- Homemade fish broth.
- Traditional white rice, microwaved or in the pressure cooker.
- Carrot cream (without garnish). Eliminate or reduce onion if it is not well tolerated.
- Pumpkin and carrot cream, removing all spices and garnish, also garlic.
- Minestrone soup without beans, using only potato, carrot and zucchini, and eliminating cheese and seasonings.
- Pumpkin cream and red lentils, without the curry, without the garlic and without the garnish.
- Vegetable soup, without the bacon, being careful with the leek if vegetables are not well tolerated yet.
- Scrambled eggs with tofu, only with previously cooked carrot and zucchini.
- Fish boiled with vegetables.
- Hake in the microwave, without the tomato and moderating the dressings.
- Baked chicken breast, making the brine but dispensing with the spices.
- Roasted pumpkin.
- Sweet potato roasted in the microwave or in the slow cooker.
- Roasted apples, not stuffed.
- Applesauce, minimizing sugar.
Photos | iStock – Unsplash – Marco Verch
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