Liquid Diet

Eating After Jaw Surgery

Here’s the liquid diet prescribed to me by my surgeon and the hospital for the first few days and weeks. I’ve been keeping up with a lot of jaw surgery blogs over the past 9 months and I’ve never seen anyone eating a regular diet within a month, but only time will tell! Here are the 5 stages of the diet.

1. Clear Liquid Diet (first 3 days)
2. Full Liquid Diet (first day home)
3. Blended Diet (1 week mark)
4. Soft Diet (1 week after the blended diet)
5. Regular Diet (1 month after surgery)

Clear Liquid Diet

These will be the darkest days of this process, immediately after surgery. I’ll be on a strict clear liquid diet consisting mostly of apple juice, chicken and beef broth and diet ginger ale. This will last about 3 days. [Update: I was not hungry at all during these 3 full days of clear liquids. I stuck to mostly water, to stay hydrated, with about two cups of broth total, the occasional mix of water/apple juice or sip of plain tea.]

Full Liquid Diet

Everything in this step of the diet was blenderized and strained:

  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Milk and milkshakes
  • Smoothies
  • Clear soups
  • Strained cream soups
  • Strained hot cereals
  • Prune juice (as required)
  • Nutritional supplements: Ensure, Boost, Resource, Nubasics, Nutren
  • Only if tolerated: ice cream, pudding, yogurt, custard, jell-o, popsicles

[Update: I had all these fancy recipes and ideals for this phase but I had about enough energy to open a bottle cap. There were things I normally like to eat that I stocked up on (certain brands of pudding and yogurt), but I couldn’t tolerate them because of the dairy content. Since I couldn’t brush my teeth for about three weeks, I was repulsed by foods and liquids that contained milk. My mouth felt too thick and gross.]

Blended Diet

Everything in this step of the diet was blenderized but not strained:

  • Milk products (dairy, shakes, cottage cheese)
  • Meat alternatives (lean cuts of meat, baby food)
  • Grain products (cooked cereals, rice pudding)
  • Vegetables & fruit (fresh, frozen or canned – avoid large amounts of seeds)
  • To add calories: add strained gravy and cream sauces, butter, margarine, cream cheese, oil, mayonnaise or smooth salad dressing)

Soft Diet

This is the last step before returning to a regular diet. It advises to eat foods that are soft such as eggs and muffins, and to blend/puree/grind/chop other foods to make them soft. Impossible to list all of those foods, but there are certain foods to avoid before the next stage of the diet, and here they are.

  • Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, bacon bits
  • Food and beverages containing eggs (not sure why)
  • Crackers and other hard grain products like popcorn and corn chips
  • Cereals that don’t soften in milk, such as Grapenut and granola
  • Hard and chewy candy
  • Olives
  • Whole cuts of meat or poultry, fried fish, hot dogs, sausage, beans
  • Chewy chunks of meat
  • All raw vegetables

[Update: I got overly excited when I was told I could eat soft things, but it wasn’t easy. I specifically remember an incident where I got frustrated and started stuffing scrambled eggs into my mouth with my bare hands and swallowing them whole. Moving from one phase to the other took time and a heap of patience.]

Regular Diet

I was given the green light to eat anything at 4-weeks post-op, but it took months (about 5 months) before the motions of chewing really felt natural. I couldn’t run out and start eating like a normal person. If I bought a hamburger, I had to chop it up into very small pieces and take my time chewing them. So in a sense, yes, it was a regular diet, but it didn’t feel natural or comfortable yet. Another jaw surgery blogger described their mouth as being like a panini-maker and this is so true. As the range of motion returned to my jaw and joints, eating became more comfortable. Progress was very slow and I had to practice chewing difficult things. When I was very hungry, I didn’t feel like doing mouth-rehab. It took a tremendous amount of patience and determination to get through the next three months or so. Even now, at 6-months post-op, I don’t eat chips, almonds or leafy lettuce. These things seem to require a full range of motion to eat comfortably, and that full range will take up to a year to come back.


9 thoughts on “Liquid Diet

  1. I have 4 days left of being wired shut. I have been wired shut since my surgery on December 16th. (6 weeks total). I just wanted to throw out some food advice. You’ll obviously crave many different foods, but it wasn’t too bad. My go to meal was Cambels Fiesta Nacho Soup. You just need to strain out the peppers. Really good for Mexican food fans

  2. This was GREAT information. I had top and bottom surgery last week and have been at a loss of ideas other then soup broth, ensure and a little sherbert. I knew there had to be other “liquids” I could have but couldn’t think of anything. I do agree that the first few days (really even week) you don’t have the hunger feeling. Thanks for the help!

  3. Just wanted to let you know that Zip-n-Squeeze bags are now available at Often when you have jaw surgery you can’t eat normally or even use a regular straw for a number of weeks. These bags solve that problem and allow you to get the nutrition you need.

    DentaKit will also soon be carrying facial ice packs and squeeze bottles. Here is a link to the page, FYI:

  4. Hi R,
    I’ve been given the green light by Dr. T to move onto soft foods in 3 days – what does this diet consist of? I can’t think of anything else besides eggs and muffns.

    • Sorry for the late response. I wasn’t able to eat that soon. My first attempt at scrambled eggs was a crying disaster, I believe after a week. It was at least three weeks before I started learning to chew! Keep me posted on your recovery.

  5. I’m on day 6 and I’m starving. Ensure grosses me right out. Too thick. I’m having a lot of issues with phlegm (any suggestions are welcome) what did you eat that wasn’t milk based or ensure?

    • Hi Marlana, I remember exactly what you feel. I rinsed my mouth out a lot and didn’t have too many dairy-based products. Fruit-based iced drinks, nothing too sweet. Apple juice, it’ll pass soon. I’m sure I posted about this at that stage, maybe going through those posts will give you more ideas. Keep me posted and stay strong!

    • I’m adding another reply because I remember how horrible that grossed out dairy period was. I remember reading that if you can’t brush your teeth, eat an apple. It cleans your mouth. Maybe cut some apple juice with sparkling water. Rinse often. Alternate water with sips of your food. Hang in there…

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