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Publication #FSHN12-14

MyPlate for Dysphagia1

Jamila R. Lepore, Nancy Gal, and Wendy J. Dahl2

Figure 1.

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What is MyPlate?

MyPlate is the dietary guidance icon from the United States Department of Agriculture based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It is an easy to understand image that focuses on building a healthy plate. Resources and tools at that provide clear, actionable information about how to make better food choices can be easily adapted for persons with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) that require texture-modified foods. Although lean and low-fat foods are recommended, those with swallowing difficulties may need fat added to some foods to improve the acceptability and ease of swallowing, and also to help them meet their energy needs.

How to Use MyPlate

MyPlate consists of one-half fruits and vegetables in addition to moderate amounts of whole grains, protein foods, and fat-free and low-fat dairy foods.

  • Make one-half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Choose a variety of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Consider red, orange, and dark-green vegetables complemented with fruit as part of the entrée or for dessert.

  • Make one-quarter of your plate grains. Select grains that are primarily whole grains, such as whole wheat, brown rice, whole cornmeal, oatmeal, and barley. Make one-quarter of your plate lean protein foods. These include animal sources such as meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Vegetarian alternatives would include beans, processed soy products such as tofu, tempeh, and texturized vegetable protein (TVP).

  • Also, add one dairy serving to each meal.

Don’t forget: Add some color to your plate! Not only does it make it more appetizing, the nutrients from deep-colored fruit and vegetables help support good health.

Other Factors to Consider

Choose foods that are low in sodium

  • Limit commercial soups or prepare homemade with salt-free or low-sodium broth.

  • Drain and rinse canned vegetables before puréeing.

Get enough fiber

  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits daily.

  • Make at least half your grains whole. Puréed whole-grain breads, crackers, and fortified cereals can be used as thickeners for many purées.

  • Consider adding fiber to grain and meat purées.

Stay hydrated

  • Puréed foods are all high in water and help with hydration. If thin liquids are safe for swallowing, choose water, low sugar fruit/vegetable juices, and low-fat and fat-free milk to increase your fluid intake.

Putting It All Together . . .

Sample Puréed Breakfast

Figure 2. 

Sample Puréed Breakfast: Cinnamon french toast with maple syrup and puréed pears, vanilla greek yogurt, and a strawberries-and-cream smoothie


UF/IFAS photo

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Sample Puréed Lunch

Figure 3. 

Beef burger with bun (both puréed ), topped with ketchup and mustard, served with shaped purées of corn and sliced pineapple as side dishes, and coconut custard for dessert


UF/IFAS photo

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Sample Puréed Dinner

Figure 4. 

Roasted turkey with gravy served with sides of stuffing, baby carrots, and blueberries (all purées), and a white-chocolate cream

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MyPlate Featuring Puréed Foods

Table 1. 

MyPlate Featuring Puréed Foods

Figure 1.

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Guideline: Puréed fruits cannot have skin or seeds.

Good choices:

  • Applesauce

  • Puréed canned fruit

  • Puréed thawed frozen fruit

  • Thickened juices

Guideline: Puréed grains must be moist, cohesive, without lumps, and not sticky.

Good choices:

  • Puréed hot cereals (oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits)

  • Puréed pasta

  • Puréed rice

  • Puréed bread mix

  • Slurried breads, pancakes, waffles, rolls, crackers, etc.)

Guideline: Puréed vegetables cannot have skin, stringy pieces, or seeds.

Good choices:

  • Canned pumpkin or squash

  • Puréed well-cooked vegetables

  • Puréed canned vegetables

  • Mashed potatoes with gravy or light sour cream (to reduce stickiness)

Guideline: Puréed protein foods must be moist, cohesive, and without lumps or pieces.

Good choices:

  • Puréed meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc.)

  • Puréed poultry (without skin)

  • Puréed legumes (beans, peas and lentils)

  • Puréed eggs

  • Puréed tofu

Guideline: Dairy products should be smooth in consistency.

Good choices:

  • Smooth yogurts, pudding, custard

  • Puréed cottage/ricotta cheese

  • Thickened milk


  • Thickened juices are available at pharmacies and some grocery stores, or are homemade juices that have a thickener added to regular juice. Thickened juices may be easier to swallow for those with swallowing difficulties. These juices may be thickened to a nectar, honey, or pudding consistency depending on the severity of swallowing difficulty.

  • A slurried food is prepared by food processing a dry food, such as crackers, bread crumbs, or breakfast cereal, to a powder and then combining with a liquid such as milk to achieve a moist, purée consistency. Crumbled pancakes and waffles can also be slurried.

  • Yogurt that contains fruit pieces should be strained. The fruit pieces can be food processed until smooth and added back.

Learn More

Swallowing Problems and the Older Adult –

Puréed Foods for Swallowing Problems –

MyPlate for Older Adults – [22 March 2013]



This document is FSHN12-14, one in a series of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Published December 2012. Visit the EDIS website at


Jamila R. Lepore, RD, graduate student, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department; Nancy Gal; Extension agent IV, Food and Consumer Sciences, UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Service, Ocala, FL; Wendy J. Dahl, PhD, RD, assistant professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.