A normal diet satisfies the nutritional needs of an individual and serves as 3 basis for planning special diets which will meet the requirements of a sick individual. The normal diet is modified during diseases for the following reasons:
i. To maintain good nutritional status and to improve resistance.
ii. To correct the deficiencies which may have occurred?
iii. To provide a change in the consistency of diet-liquid, semi-liquid and soft diets.
iv. To provide easily digestible foods, bland in flavor.
v. To adjust the food intake according to the body’s ability to metabolize the nutrients.
vi. To bring about change in the body weight whenever required.
vii. To afford rest to the body.
The diet of a patient may be divided into 3 categories:
(i) Liquid Diet
A liquid diet is prescribed to 2 patients who cannot tolerate solid foods especially in conditions like diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion, fevers and after operations. This is usually given for one or two days after which the patient can take a liberal semi-liquid or soft diet. A liquid diet may include the following: tea with lemon and sugar, skimmed milk, glucose in water, whey, soup, fruit juice eggnog.
(ii) Semi-liquid Diet
A semi-liquid diet is given to a person when he is unable to chew or swallow solid food. It includes all foods in liquid state. This type of diet will include foods free from irritating foods and condiments. Persons suffering from gastro-intestinal disturbances are usually given semi-liquid diet. Foods that can be included in this type of diet are porridge, cornflakes, half-boiled egg, boiled mashed vegetables, purees, steamed rice and dal gruel.
(iii) Soft Diet
A soft diet is neither a liquid nor a normal diet. It is usually given to patients, recovering from illness, acute infections, gastro-intestinal disturbances and after operations. This type of a diet is given when the patient can chew the foods, when he is recovering from illness and has gained a little strength. Some persons may require a soft diet because they have no teeth or a weak digestive system. A soft diet generally consists of stewed fruit and vegetables such as apples, pears, peas, carrots; finely ground and minced meat boiled and mashed potatoes, bananas, soft bread, cheese, soups, khichri and custard. Raw fruits and vegetables must be avoided, and tough skins removed. Nuts should be avoided or if used must be blanched and chopped very finely. The special diets that will be dealt with in this chapter are used for patients suffering from diarrhea and dysentery, constipation and fever.