Types of therapeutic diets

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 Please review article. Submit a 1 page summary on the different diets. Choose 3 and write a dialogue on how you would explain to a patient what diet they are on, why, what restrictions there are, etc.  

IHSS Training Academy 1

Types of Therapeutic Diets

A therapeutic diet is a meal plan that controls the intake of certain foods or
nutrients. It is part of the treatment of a medical condition and are normally
prescribed by a physician and planned by a dietician. A therapeutic diet is
usually a modification of a regular diet. It is modified or tailored to fit the
nutrition needs of a particular person.

Therapeutic diets are modified for (1) nutrients, (2) texture, and/or (3) food
allergies or food intolerances.

Common reasons therapeutic diets may be ordered:
• To maintain nutritional status
• To restore nutritional status
• To correct nutritional status
• To decrease calories for weight control
• To provide extra calories for weight gain
• To balance amounts of carbohydrates, fat and protein for control of

• To provide a greater amount of a nutrient such as protein
• To decrease the amount of a nutrient such as sodium
• To exclude foods due to allergies or food intolerance
• To provide texture modifications due to problems with chewing and/or


Common therapeutic diets include:
1. Nutrient modifications

• No concentrated sweets diet
• Diabetic diets
• No added salt diet
• Low sodium diet
• Low fat diet and/or low cholesterol diet
• High fiber diet
• Renal diet

2. Texture modification

• Mechanical soft diet
• Puree diet

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3. Food allergy or food intolerance modification
• Food allergy
• Food intolerance

4. Tube feedings

• Liquid tube feedings in place of meals
• Liquid tube feedings in addition to meals

5. Additional feedings – In addition to meal, extra nutrition may be

ordered as:
• Supplements – usually ordered as liquid nutritional shakes once,

twice or three times per day; given either with meals or between

• Nourishments – ordered as a snack food or beverage items to be
given between meals mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon

• HS snack – ordered as a snack food or beverage items to be given at
the hour of sleep

The following list includes brief descriptions of common therapeutic

Clear liquid diet –
• Includes minimum residue fluids that can be seen through.
• Examples are juices without pulp, broth, and Jell-O.
• Is often used as the first step to restarting oral feeding after surgery or

an abdominal procedure.
• Can also be used for fluid and electrolyte replacement in people with

severe diarrhea.
• Should not be used for an extended period as it does not provide

enough calories and nutrients.

Full liquid diet –
• Includes fluids that are creamy.
• Some examples of food allowed are ice cream, pudding, thinned hot

cereal, custard, strained cream soups, and juices with pulp.
• Used as the second step to restarting oral feeding once clear liquids are

• Used for people who cannot tolerate a mechanical soft diet.
• Should not be used for extended periods.

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No Concentrated Sweets (NCS) diet –
• Is considered a liberalized diet for diabetics when their weight and blood

sugar levels are under control.
• It includes regular foods without the addition of sugar.
• Calories are not counted as in ADA calorie controlled diets.

Diabetic or calorie controlled diet (ADA) –
• These diets control calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat intake in

balanced amounts to meet nutritional needs, control blood sugar levels,
and control weight.

• Portion control is used at mealtimes as outlined in the ADA “Exchange
List for Meal Planning.”

• Most commonly used calorie levels are: 1,200, 1,500, 1,800 and 2,000.

No Added Salt (NAS) diet –
• Is a regular diet with no salt packet on the tray.
• Food is seasoned as regular food.

Low Sodium (LS) diet –
• May also be called a 2 gram Sodium Diet.
• Limits salt and salty foods such as bacon, sausage, cured meats,

canned soups, salty seasonings, pickled foods, salted crackers, etc.
• Is used for people who may be “holding water” (edema) or who have

high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, or first stages of
kidney disease.

Low fat/low cholesterol diet –
• Is used to reduce fat levels and/or treat medical conditions that interfere

with how the body uses fat such as diseases of the liver, gallbladder, or

• Limits fat to 50 grams or no more than 30% calories derived from fat.
• Is low in total fat and saturated fats and contains approximately 250-300

mg cholesterol.

High fiber diet –
• Is prescribed in the prevention or treatment of a number of

gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases.
• Increased fiber should come from a variety of sources including fruits,

legumes, vegetables, whole breads, and cereals.

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Renal diet –
• Is for renal/kidney people.
• The diet plan is individualized depending on if the person is on dialysis.
• The diet restricts sodium, potassium, fluid, and protein specified levels.
• Lab work is followed closely.

Mechanically altered or soft diet –
• Is used when there are problems with chewing and swallowing.
• Changes the consistency of the regular diet to a softer texture.
• Includes chopped or ground meats as well as chopped or ground raw

fruits and vegetables.
• Is for people with poor dental conditions, missing teeth, no teeth, or a

condition known as dysphasia.

Pureed diet –
• Changes the regular diet by pureeing it to a smooth liquid consistency.
• Indicated for those with wired jaws extremely poor dentition in which

chewing is inadequate.
• Often thinned down so it can pass through a straw.
• Is for people with chewing or swallowing difficulties or with the condition

of dysphasia.
• Foods should be pureed separately.
• Avoid nuts, seeds, raw vegetables, and raw fruits.
• Is nutritionally adequate when offering all food groups.

Food allergy modification –
• Food allergies are due to an abnormal immune response to an

otherwise harmless food.
• Foods implicated with allergies are strictly eliminated from the diet.
• Appropriate substitutions are made to ensure the meal is adequate.
• The most common food allergens are milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts,

tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
• A gluten free diet would include the elimination of wheat, rye, and barley.

Replaced with potato, corn, and rice products.

Food intolerance modification –
• The most common food intolerance is intolerance to lactose (milk sugar)

because of a decreased amount of an enzyme in the body.
• Other common types of food intolerance include adverse reactions to

certain products added to food to enhance taste, color, or protect
against bacterial growth.

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• Common symptoms involving food intolerances are vomiting, diarrhea,
abdominal pain, and headaches.

Tube feedings –
• Tube feedings are used for people who cannot take adequate food or

fluids by mouth.
• All or parts of nutritional needs are met through tube feedings.
• Some people may receive food by mouth if they can swallow safely and

are working to be weaned off the tube feeding.

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