Coming out of surgery, you may not feel like you initially want anything to eat. This will depend on the reason for surgery and where it was. After all, you may have been forced to fast for a whole day while waiting for the operating rooms to clear. Of course, if your surgery was abdominal it can take some time to get over the swelling and pain to feel like eating anything.
Once you’ve had surgery, you’ll want to follow doctors’ advice. Surgical patients are at a high risk of infection, so getting a diet full of nutrients is essential. You want a diet that will help to keep your immune system in check and help to keep inflammation within the gut to a minimum.
So, what should you eat after surgery? What’s the best meal plan for your recovery period? Here’s a look at the ultimate meal planning guide for post-surgical patients.
Things to Do Before Surgery
If you know that you’re going to have surgery, it’s worth to do some planning beforehand. You want to get as much in order as possible to keep moving around and standing to a minimum. After surgery, you want to do as much relaxing as possible.
Bulk-make a range of dishes. You can freeze the portions and then reheat them when it comes to needing them. If there are meals that can’t be frozen, make sure the ingredients are already prepared. You can then just throw them all into a pan or dish and cook right away. There will be less to do in preparation for your dinner.
Bulk-making and preparing is a tip especially for those who don’t have others to cook for them. If you have a support network around you, ask them for help with the cooking and don’t turn down meals that they bring for you. You’ll find a lot of people don’t know what to do, especially if your surgery wasn’t planned. They’ll make lasagnas and casseroles because they just know it will be easier for you and useful.
But what will you need to help with your post-surgery lifestyle?
Stock Up on the Fibre
Make sure your meals are filled with fiber. This nutrient is great for making you feel fuller for longer (meaning you don’t have to get up to the kitchen too much) but will also help your digestive system.
One of the most common problems post-surgery is constipation. Patients complain that they can’t pass the wind to get rid of the build-up of gases. They struggle to get rid of the blockage of toxins in their system, which can cause some problems. Depending on the surgery you have, you may not be allowed to leave the hospital until you pass the wind or use the toilet to empty your bowels. The doctors want to prevent the need for you to return.
So, you want to make sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet. The best high-fibre foods are fruits and vegetables. One of the most commonly brought in foods to the hospital is grapes. They’re easy to cart around and eat. There’s no need to worry about cooking or dealing with trash. Nurses and doctors like to see their patients with grapes, as they’re also packed with plenty of nutrients to help with the healing process. As friends and relatives to bring grapes in for you if they’re stuck on something to help you pass the time.
You can also ask for other fruits and vegetables or some whole grains. Whole wheat bread is often a popular choice. If you get a choice of bread for your meals in the hospital, ask for whole grain. Some hospitals will now only provide whole wheat bread because it’s packed with fiber, as well as carbs.
Oatmeal is another popular option for the fiber. You can always ask friends to bring in an overnight oats recipe. When you get back home, you can also make overnight oats relatively easily. This will save you some time cooking on the stove.
Seafood, Poultry, and Amino Acid Sources Are Your Friend
When recovering from surgery, you want to get as many amino acids as possible. These are a type of protein that helps with the regeneration of tissue within the body. Your tissue and body will have been through a trauma, even if the surgery was planned. The body needs help to heal the damage.
Remember that for most surgeries, your muscles will be cut and moved. It shouldn’t be that surprising that you need to get more protein into your diet.
So, what should you get in your diet for the amino acids? The best options are poultry and seafood. They’re low in fats but high in protein. You can also get plenty of healthy protein from eggs, tofu, beans, and nuts. You’ll be surprised at how good legumes can be for your healing process.
The great thing about a lot of the foods is that they can be cooked in advanced. You can cook a chicken and then freeze it in portions. Pull out the portions when you’re ready to reheat them and use them. Make sure you reheat fully to avoid food poisoning! Seafood can be boughtpre-cooked, so you just must reheat or just thaw, especially when it comes to shellfish.
Nuts and legumes can be eaten raw! If you do cook them, they won’t take that long in a saucepan or microwave.
The thing to take away from this is that the healthy foods you need won’t take too long to make when you’re recovering from surgery.
If you’re stuck in the hospital and struggling to get your hands on healthy protein, talk to friends about bringing some protein powder to you. A scoop of protein powder in your water or mixed with your meals and desserts will go a long way to helping with the healing process.
When at home, you can add some protein powder to some green smoothies. You have an excellent mixture of both fiber and protein to help with your digestive system and healing process.
Make Sure Your Carbs Are Complex
You’ll need to top up your energy levels when you’re recovering from surgery. The surgical process will take a lot out of you, and then you have a lot of extra healing to do.
Carbs are the best food group for energy, but you don’t just want any carbs. Simple carbs will give you sugar rushes that leave you feeling more tired afterward. You’ll also put yourself at risk of diabetes and infection.
Look out for complex carbs. These are the carbs that are starchy or fibrous. They’re the likes of whole grains and whole wheat foods. Think about brown pasta and rice, brown bread, and even beans. Yes, fruits and vegetables are also excellent sources of good carbs.
You’ll help to add more fiber to your diet when you choose the right carbs. Not only do you get the long-term energy boosts, but you’ll protect against digestive complaints.
That doesn’t mean all simple carbs must be off the menu. You’ll find that hospitals include small portions of cakes, some biscuits, and even ice cream. The benefit is in the portion size. You’re getting a minute amount that will help to make you feel like you’re getting a treat to boost your hormones, without causing too much damage to your body.
Don’t get simple carbs daily. Every few days is more than enough.
Your Body Will Need Some Fat
Did you know that the body needs fats from your food? Like with carbs, the body needs the right type of fats. This means drop the vegetable oil and the saturated fats and opt for the monounsaturated varieties. You want to get more olive oil, avocados, and nuts into your diet.
We’ve already seen that nuts are good. They offer the amino acids that the body needs to heal. However, they also offer the healthy fats to offer some energy to the body. Healthy fats will help to protect the arteries and burn calories. All other healthy fats will offer the same as nuts.
Healthy fats will help the body absorb more nutrients throughout the day. This doesn’t just help your energy levels, but also the healing process. Your immune system gets the support needed to help keep the body fighting against infection post-surgery.
Choose the Right Micronutrients
What about your vitamins and minerals? Just what does your body need for the post-surgery period?
One of the best vitamins that you can stock up on is vitamin A. The great news is that with a good diet this is one of the easiest vitamins to get into your diet. Look out for the plant form of the vitamin, especially if you’re pregnant and post-surgical. You can get good forms of vitamin A from carrots, dark green veggies, sweet potatoes, and other similar foods.
Two other vitamins you want to get more of are vitamins C and E. Citrus fruits, and anything red, orange, and yellow are your best friends right now. If you’re already eating carrots and sweet potatoes, you will get some good amounts of vitamin C, but you can also get it from berries, oranges, tomatoes, and melons.
As for vitamin E, you’ll want to get more nuts and eggs. You can also get this nutrient topically easily through aloe vera. There are some people who suggest drinking aloe vera juice but talk to your doctor before you even consider this. Vitamin E is essential for fighting against infection and reducing signs of aging or surgical scarring. The vitamin E fights against the free radicals building in your body.
It’s also worth eating more liver and dark leafy greens for the vitamin K. This is often overlooked, but useful for blood clotting. This is helpful to prevent internal bleeding after surgery.
Out of all the minerals, make sure you get plenty of iron and zinc. Iron is essential for energy after your surgery. It will help to get more oxygenated blood around your body. When you feel like you have more energy, you will heal quicker and feel mentally better after surgery.
Zinc helps with the healing process and can be found in seafood, beans, and dairy. It has natural healing properties, helping to make sure your surgical area heals quicker and cleaner. Your doctor will be more than happy to hear that you’re getting more of this metal in your diet.
Don’t Forget to Get Plenty of Water
Of course, you can’t overlook drinking water. The best thing you can drink after surgery is water. While you may want something with a little more flavor, there is nothing better for you than good old water.
If you need more flavor, get some fresh fruit to put in it. A little lemon or some strawberries will give you a natural sweetness without the extra calories.
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Avoid alcohol while recovering from surgery. Not only will it interfere with your medication but it will dehydrate your body and slow down the healing process.
Try to Avoid Dairy Products and Red Meats
Since constipation is a problem, you want to look for food that isn’t going to cause a problem for your digestive system. There are certain foods that are worse for you. Dairy foods and red meats are the common problems. Processed and sweet foods are also an issue.
While you may not want to cut out all dairy foods, cut down on them as much as possible. You can replace red meats with white meats while you’re recovering. White meats are better for your than red meats, especially when it comes to the protein and healthy fats.
Watch out for dried foods. While grapes are good for your digestive system, raisins and other dried fruits can be an issue. Just stick to the fresh or frozen options, as they tend to have more water to help the fiber pass through your system and tackle the constipation issue.
Look after your body post-surgery. Your diet won’t just help to fuel your system. It will help you heal quicker. You have a digestive system that works effectively, so your immune system can work properly. A good diet will help you get all the nutrients your body needs to heal quickly and fully while keeping your mental health in check.
Of course, don’t forget to rest after surgery. Give yourself time to heal before you get back to your daily routine.