Guide to food choices and preparation hints for patients with temporomandibular disorders.  The extent to which foods may be cut, chopped, or pureed varies with the extent of the patient’s discomfort or pain and jaw opening. The guidelines provided are intended to help patients select healthful and preferred foods and enjoy eating. Overall principles include the following: cut all foods well, select moist foods or use gravies or sauces to moisten foods to a comfortable consistency, peel fruits (with the exception of berries) and vegetables that have skin, chop whole foods to consistencies that can be comfortably tolerated, limit jaw opening to the extent that is comfortable, take small bites of food, and chew slowly. Adapted from:


  • Peel all fruits with hard or chewy skin (for example, apples, peaches, plums, pears).

  • Chop whole (peeled) fruits.

  • Use the blender to puree or “sauce” any fruits.

  • Make smoothies with any peeled fruits in the blender, adding ice, milk (cow, soy, almond), or yogurt.


  • Wash, steam, or cook greens such as spinach, chard, kale, or collards for 2 to 3 minutes, finely chop into a ribbonlike thickness.

  • Chop tomatoes.

  • Peel and finely chop cucumbers.

  • Peel and either shred or finely chop or mince root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or beets. If chopped, cook after chopping.

  • Cook broccoli, cauliflower, or other similar vegetables until tender, then chop.

  • For patients who like “juicing,” suggest that they juice or make smoothies with any vegetables by following the juicing machine instructions. Similarly, if the patient is unable to eat whole pieces of vegetables, suggest making vegetable soups and purees.

  • Peel, cook until tender, and chop other vegetables with skin.

  • Cook, chop, and mash potatoes (white or sweet).

  • As needed or desired, use a blender to convert vegetables into juices or try purchasing commercial vegetable or tomato juices.

Legumes and Nuts

  • Cook legumes and mash or puree legumes that are larger than the size of a pea.

  • Use nut butters (any nuts can be used).

Protein Foods

  • Cook poultry or meats until tender; moisten with broth, gravies, or other sauces; and cut into bite-size pieces.

  • Cook and cut fish into bite-size pieces, soften with sauces as desired; make into tuna salad.

  • Chop tofu and tempeh into bite-size pieces; tempeh may need moistening.


  • Consume all milk products, yogurt, and cheese as tolerated.

Dairy Alternatives

  • If the patient experiences difficulty or is unable to eat protein foods or nut butters, try alternatives such as meal replacement beverages (for example, instant breakfast and whey protein beverages or powder).


  • Prepare hot cereals.

  • Try couscous, quinoa, farro, rice, and other cooked grains.

  • Cook orzo and other small pasta until tender.

  • Cut thin toast into small pieces.

What should you eat if you have TMJ?

Are you clenching or grinding?

This article in the Journal of the American Dental Association has more information, including morning jaw pain as a red flag for grinding at night:

Find out more about TMJ at the National Institutes of Health:

They have links to informational brochures and ongoing TMJ studies: