Living an Active Life after a Stroke: Nutrition

A stroke occurs when blood flow stops to an area of the brain, causing brain cell damage and dysfunction. The effects of a stroke can vary greatly from one individual to another because of differences in the severity and location of the brain cell damage. Common neurological deficits after stroke include varying degrees of weakness or paralysis, loss of coordination and balance, sensory loss and difficulty speaking or swallowing. Other symptoms can include pain, loss of memory and confusion, irritability, anxiety and depression.


Your diet is an important part of your treatment after a stroke. Eating the right kinds of foods may help you feel better and get stronger. A well balanced diet helps your body build tissues that may have been harmed and also gives you energy.

How Can Stroke Affect Nutrition?

After a stroke:

Parts of the body that are needed for eating, such as the mouth, throat and/or hands, may not work properly

The taste of foods may change

Keeping a desirable body weight may become a problem

Adaptive Devices

Each person’s diet has to be individualized based on the type and extent of the problems caused by a stroke. Eating after a stroke may require:

Using special utensils

Making sure that dentures fit well

Eating soft foods, which may be easier to chew and swallow

Preparing Foods after a Stroke

Flavor your meat, chicken or fish by marinating and/or cooking in fruit juices, wines, dressing or sweet and sour sauce

Use strong seasonings such as oregano, rosemary, basil or pepper

Try tart foods such as oranges, lemons or lemonade

Flavor vegetables with garlic or onion

Eat foods at room temperature to enhance the taste

Cook foods until soft and tender

Cut foods into small pieces or process to a puree texture

Liquids may need to be thickened or avoided altogether

Mix food with gravies and/or sauces

Some examples of foods that may be tolerated well are: scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, stews, mashed potatoes, creamy soups, puddings, applesauce, hot cereal, milkshakes, cottage cheese and bananas.

Maintaining a Desirable Body Weight

To make sure that your weight does not become a problem

Eat a variety of foods

Balance the amount you eat with the amount of energy you use through physical activity

Choose whole wheat grains, vegetables and fruits

Avoid high fat and fried foods

Limit your salt and sugar intake

Drink alcohol in moderation

REMEMBER: Each person has certain needs depending on his or her health and medical diagnosis. A Registered Dietician is part of the team of specialists who can help you achieve a satisfying and nutritionally adequate diet according to your health needs and food preferences.


For more information about stroke and other related health risks, listed below are resources available to you:

American Stroke Association

National Stroke Association

CenterLight Health System