What you eat after a surgery can help or hurt your recovery time, so it’s important to know what foods to eat after surgery so you will recover as quickly and safely as possible.
Increased calorie-intake is recommended for post-surgery wound healing. With a well-balanced diet (based on the Food Pyramid), you might not need to take supplements for healing although certain supplements are often recommended anyway. However, if you have diet restrictions, are nutritionally deprived, have bed sores, or chronic wounds, supplements could be very helpful.
Constipation is a common problem after a surgical procedure, so eating the right foods can reduce this problem and in some cases keep it from occurring. Apart from that, a well-balanced diet can shorten healing time.
Sometimes it’s hard to eat well after surgery. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation recommends to take a prepared liquid oral nutritional supplement. They also suggest taking a multivitamin if you cannot meet the requirements of the Food Pyramid.
In addition to foods certain supplements can be very beneficial to the post-surgical healing process.
- Eating whole foods is always a good idea for general health, but this is even more important during the recovery period after a surgery. The term whole food means that the foods are unprocessed. Fresh fruits and vegetables are great examples of whole foods.
When eating whole foods, be sure to keep them as close to their “whole” state as possible. Lightly steam vegetables, avoid fruit juices and opt for fresh fruit, not canned. If you don’t have access to fresh fruit, frozen is the next best choice. That same rule applies to vegetables as well. Canned vegetables and fruits typically have a lot of additives and extra sugar and salt in them, reducing their positive benefits.
- Processed foods are foods that are usually precooked and over-processed, removing most of the healthy properties, and have a lot of salt, fat and other non healthy things added to them. Eating lean meat, poultry with the skin and fat removed, and fish are all good choices. Examples of processed meat would be frozen chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and anything in a TV dinner style box. Even the diet meals have a lot of sodium added.
- Low fat dairy is another good choice such as skim milk, low fat cottage cheese or yogurt, and low fat cheeses. Don’t overdo it on the dairy though because too much can cause constipation to be worse, but having one or two servings per day should be safe.
- Fiber is very important after surgery. You can find natural fiber in whole grain breads and pastas, vegetables, and certain cereals. You have to be careful when purchasing cereals because many of them have higher sugar content than sweets. There are many high fiber cereal choices on the market now, so finding one that you like will be easy. Oatmeal and cream of wheat are also great choices.
- Lean protein is an important food to eat after surgery. If you don’t eat meat, then you can get this important lean protein from sources such as nuts, tofu, tempeh, and beans. You can also get protein from your one or two dairy servings. Take dairy products in moderation because too much may cause constipation.
If you don’t feel you’re getting enough protein from meat or meatless sources, there are protein powders that can be added to your diet in the form of smoothies or shakes. Don’t use them as meal replacements though when you’re recovering from a surgery. Protein drinks are also good choices when you’re unable to handle solid foods.
- Another important factor to not overlook is water. Water is extremely important to your body in terms of healing properly. It can also help with constipation and flushing out toxins from the system. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day is a good goal to shoot for to keep your body hydrated and working properly.
Post Surgery Power Foods
Since vitamin C is an important surgery supplement citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries are recommended to add to your diet.
Also the anti-oxidant beta carotene plays a big role in recovery so make sure to eat orange foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and carrot.
And of course zinc. A few zinc rich foods are pumpkin seeds, dark meat poultry, oysters, red meat, nuts, and beans.
Another great addition are green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and kale because these contain the vitamins A, C, and E as well as some B complex vitamins.
It is common for iron levels to drop after surgery. Making sure your food contains iron after surgery can solve this problem. However, make sure you don’t take an overdose of iron as it can be very toxic.