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When you swallow, food passes through your esophagus to your stomach. Heartburn and gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, are the most common esophageal disorders, but a bruised esophagus can also cause tremendous pain when you eat. A soft diet can reduce the pain that you get from eating, and a nutritionist can help you design a nutritionally adequate diet for your condition.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
A soft food diet is common for individuals who have had surgery or who have trouble chewing or swallowing, and it may allow your bruised esophagus to heal by preventing further irritation. A soft diet emphasizes naturally soft or highly processed foods, and it restricts foods that may scratch or tear your esophagus. The diet may also limit foods that cause gas or bloating because these conditions can also place stress on your esophagus, according to the Langone Medical Center.
Foods to Eat
A soft food diet allows soft raw, cooked and canned fruits without the skin, and canned and cooked vegetables, according to the Langone Medical Center. You can have cooked refined grains, such as white pasta and rice, and cereals as long as they do not have nuts or seeds. Other soft foods are ice cream, pudding, sugar and beverages.
Foods to Avoid
Pain in the Esophagus After Eating
You may feel pain when you eat hard foods such as:
- most raw vegetables
- dried fruits,
- fruits with seeds or pits
Other foods to avoid are whole grain breads and other baked goods, popcorn, gristly meats, fish with bones and fried foods, such as
- French fries
Spices, jams with seeds and coconut are also likely to injure your bruised esophagus.
Even if a food is on your list of allowed foods for a soft diet, avoid it if it causes pain when you swallow it. A soft food diet may relieve pain or prevent further symptoms, but it is important to determine and treat any underlying medical conditions that may have caused your condition. For example, a bruised esophagus may result from esophageal varices, which are a sign of liver disease, according to Medline Plus 1. To be on the safe side, consult your doctor if you have a bruised esophagus.
- Even if a food is on your list of allowed foods for a soft diet, avoid it if it causes pain when you swallow it.
- A soft food diet may relieve pain or prevent further symptoms, but it is important to determine and treat any underlying medical conditions that may have caused your condition.
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List of Foods on a Soft Diet
- Medline Plus; Bleeding Esophageal Varices; David Dugdale, et al.; January 2010
- Ajayi TA, Cantrell S, Spann A, Garman KS. Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer: Links to microbes and the microbiome. PLOS Pathogens. 2018;14(12). doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1007384
- Ferhatoglu MF, Kıvılcım T. Anatomy of Esophagus. Esophageal Abnormalities. June 2017. doi:10.5772/intechopen.69583
- Grossi L, Ciccaglione AF, Marzio L. Esophagitis and its causes: Who is "guilty" when acid is found "not guilty"? World J Gastroenterol. 2017;23(17):3011-3016. doi:10.3748/wjg.v23.i17.3011
- Hong YS, Min YW, Rhee PL. Two Distinct Types of Hypercontractile Esophagus: Classic and Spastic Jackhammer. Gut Liver. 2016;10(5):859-63. doi:10.5009/gnl15388
- Napier KJ, Scheerer M, Misra S. Esophageal cancer: A Review of epidemiology, pathogenesis, staging workup and treatment modalities. World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2014;6(5):112-20. doi:10.4251/wjgo.v6.i5.112
- Yin A, Li Y, Jiang Y, Liu J, Luo H. Mallory-Weiss syndrome: clinical and endoscopic characteristics. Eur J Intern Med. 2012;23(4):e92-6. doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2012.02.005
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- Meseeha M, Attia M. Esophageal Varices. [Updated 2019 Feb 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.
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- Slawik M, Beuschlein F, Light K, et al. Odynophagia. Encyclopedia of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease. 2009:1512-1514. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29676-8_1313
- Shaheen NJ, Falk GW, Iyer PG, Gerson LB. ACG Clinical Guideline: Diagnosis and Management of Barrett's Esophagus. Am J Gastroenterol. 2016;111(1):30-50. doi:10.1038/ajg.2015.322
- American Cancer Society. What is Cancer of the Esophagus?
- Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Edition. McGraw-Hill Education. 2018.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Esophagus Disorders.
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.