Top 17 Types of Therapeutic Diets

There are many types of therapeutic diets, they are specialized diets designed to address specific medical conditions and improve health outcomes. From heart-healthy diets aiding in cardiovascular disease management to diabetic diets for blood sugar control.

These diets play a vital role in patient care and chronic disease management. While advocating for diet liberalization is important in malnutrition prevention, there are certain people that need a therapeutic diet.

Here’s the top therapeutic diets currently used, and when you should be using them

Types of Therapeutic Diets

Diet NameWhy Someone Needs ItFoods AllowedFoods Not Encouraged
Heart-Healthy DietHeart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, post-cardiac surgeryOats, brown rice, skinless poultry, fish (especially omega-3-rich like salmon), nuts, seeds, olive oil, plenty of fruits (like berries, apples) and vegetables (like spinach, carrots)Trans fats (found in some processed foods), high-sodium foods (like canned soups), red meats, sugary treats, full-fat dairy
Diabetic DietDiabetes (Type 1 and 2), prediabetes, insulin resistanceFiber-rich whole grains (quinoa, barley), lean proteins (chicken, fish), non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, cucumbers), low-glycemic fruits (berries, apples), legumesSugary desserts, white bread, pasta made with white flour, sugary cereals, fruit juices
Renal DietChronic kidney disease, kidney stonesCauliflower, blueberries, garlic, buckwheat, olive oil, egg whitesHigh potassium foods (bananas, oranges), high phosphorus foods (dairy, whole grains), processed foods with added salts, certain dark-colored sodas
Low Sodium DietHypertension, heart failure, kidney disease, liver cirrhosisFresh vegetables and fruits, unsalted nuts, grains like rice and pasta, fresh meats, herbs and spices for flavorDeli meats, canned soups and vegetables, salted snacks, pre-packaged meals, condiments like soy sauce and ketchup
Gluten-Free DietCeliac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, wheat allergyGluten-free grains (rice, quinoa, corn), most dairy products, fresh meats and fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seedsAnything containing wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives; certain processed foods, beers, and malt beverages
Low Residue DietInflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitisWhite bread and pasta, white rice, well-cooked vegetables without skin or seeds, canned fruits.Whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, popcorn, dried fruits
High Fiber DietConstipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosisWhole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice), legumes (beans, lentils), fruits (apples, pears), vegetables (carrots, broccoli), nuts, and seedsProcessed foods low in fiber, white bread, non-whole grain cereals, canned fruits and vegetables
High Calorie, High Protein DietMalnutrition, cancer, certain infections, wound healing, muscle wastingLean meats, dairy products (milk, cheese), nuts and nut butters, seeds, legumes, whole grains, avocadoLow-calorie foods, diet beverages, foods low in protein such as rice cakes, plain salads without protein
Lactose-Free DietLactose intolerance, certain digestive disordersLactose-free milk and dairy products, non-dairy milks (almond, soy, rice), lactose-free yogurts and cheeses, meats, grains, fruits and vegetablesRegular milk, standard dairy products like cheese and yogurt, anything containing lactose or milk derivatives
Therapeutic Diet List

Types of Altered Texture Diets

Level NumberNameWhy Someone Needs This DietFoods Allowed
7RegularNo dysphagia or mild dysphagiaStandard diet with no modification
6Soft and Bite-SizedModerate dysphagia, difficulty chewingSoft, moist foods easily formed into a bolus
5Minced and MoistMore pronounced chewing difficultiesSmall, minced, moist foods like ground meats, soft-cooked vegetables
4PureedSevere dysphagia, poor oral phase abilitiesSmooth, homogeneous foods like pureed fruits, vegetables, and meats
3LiquidizedDifficulty managing semi-solid foodsFoods pureed and thinned to a liquid consistency
2Mildly ThickNeed for slightly slower-moving liquidsLiquids thickened to a mildly thick consistency
1Slightly ThickMild difficulty with thin liquidsLiquids thickened to a slightly thick consistency
0Thin LiquidsNo difficulty with swallowing thin liquidsRegular liquids like water, tea, coffee
Altered Diet Texture List

Ways to Liberalize Diets

Diet NameStandard RestrictionsWays to Liberalize
Heart-Healthy DietLow in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodiumIntroduce occasional meals with lean cuts of red meat, use moderate amounts of healthy fats like olive oil, allow controlled portions of dark chocolate for heart health
Diabetic DietControlled carbohydrates, low sugar, balanced mealsIncorporate more variety of fruits (even those with medium glycemic index), allow occasional treats with a focus on portion control, and balance with other meal components
Renal DietLow potassium, low phosphorus, controlled proteinIncrease the variety of fruits and vegetables with careful monitoring of potassium levels, add small amounts of whole grains, introduce more proteins
Low Sodium DietVery low salt, avoidance of processed foodsUse of herbs and spices to enhance flavor without adding salt, occasional inclusion of low-sodium processed foods, slight increase in salt in cooking
Gluten-Free DietNo gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye)For non-celiac gluten sensitivity (not for celiac disease), trial inclusion of low-gluten grains like oats, explore more gluten-free processed foods for variety
Low Residue DietLimited fiber, low residue foodsGradually introduce more cooked fruits and vegetables, incorporate low-fiber whole grains, allow for more variety in protein sources
High Fiber DietHigh in fiber-rich foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetablesInclude occasional refined grains for variety, introduce more processed foods that are still high in fiber, allow for some lower-fiber fruits and vegetables
High Calorie, High Protein DietHigh in calories and protein, often with nutrient-dense foodsIntroduce more variety in high-calorie foods including healthy desserts, use of protein supplements in creative ways (like smoothies), add more diverse fat sources like nuts and avocados
Lactose-Free DietNo lactose-containing foods (found in many dairy products)For those with lactose intolerance, trial small amounts of lactose-containing foods, introduce lactose-reduced dairy products, explore a wider range of lactose-free alternatives
Ways to Liberalize the Types of Therapeutic Diets

The Importance of Therapeutic Diets

elderly people eating in a dining room that looks like a nursing home.

So there you have it, but let’s remember that when it comes to therapeutic diets, especially for our older adult and elderly patients, it’s not just about the strict guidelines. As dietitians, our role extends to making these diets not only nutritionally adequate but also appealing and improving quality of life.

Liberalizing these diets, while maintaining their effectiveness, is key in this demographic. They need diets that are manageable, enjoyable, and respectful of their long-held eating habits and preferences. After all, we’re aiming for them to enjoy food and prevent malnutrition.

By combining our nutritional expertise with a genuine understanding of the unique challenges and preferences of the elderly, we can tailor these diets to be a positive, sustainable part of their daily routine.

Here’s to creating therapeutic diets that are not just medically beneficial but also a source of comfort and enjoyment in their golden years!

Other Articles You May Find Helpful

Beyond Restrictions: The Advantages of Liberalized Diets.

Supplement Drinks for the Elderly.

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Michelle Saari is a Registered Dietitian based in Canada. She has a Master's Degree in Human Nutritional Sciences and is a passionate advocate for spreading easy to understand, reliable, and trustworthy nutrition information. She is currently a full time online entrepreneur with two nutrition focused websites.

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