Post-Surgery Food 101 – What You Need to Know (Recipes Included) (2024)

Post-Surgery Food 101 – What You Need to Know (Recipes Included) (1)

Table of Contents

  • What Happens When You Wake Up?
  • What Does Your Body Need After a Surgery?
  • How Does a Surgery Affect Your Body?
  • Stay Hydrated
  • What Should You Eat?
  • Fibers to Treat Constipation
  • Carbohydrates Against Post-Surgical Fatigue
  • Good Fats for Additional Energy
  • Whole Grains for Breakfast
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
  • Lean Mean Protein
  • What If You Have No Appetite?
  • Post-Surgery Food Recipes?
  • What Is Your Experience With Post-Surgery Food?

The period that comes after a surgical procedure, including the time you spend in a hospital and the time you get home is considered to be post-operative care. Spending time in a hospital means that you are always surrounded by medical staff and in a controlled environment. But, what happens when you get home and why is post-surgery food that important?

There are so many questions you need an answer to. How should you behave? Is there any food that can help you recover more efficiently? How long will the recovery period take?

To help you “survive” post-operative period, we are going to provide answers to some of the most critical questions, with a particular focus on post-surgery food.

Here we go!

What Happens When You Wake Up?

The first thing about the post-operative care you have to know is the fact that waking up from anesthesia can take a while. As you might know, an anesthesiologist helps your body to stay asleep by regulating the level of anesthesia in the brain. How long you will be affected by anesthesia depends on the type of anesthetic that was used and the length of the surgery.

When a doctor wakes you up, the first sense which will return is the hearing.

After you wake up comes the period of monitoring your state and so don’t be surprised if you notice several medical devices attached to your body. Usually, nurses assess your overall physical condition by visiting you frequently. Nurses are also there to bring you blankets to warm you up since you are probably going to feel cold, which is an entirely normal post-surgery feeling.

A couple of days (or potentially hours, depending on the procedure), you are ready to be discharged. A doctor will give you a list of dos and don’ts you should keep in mind when you get home. And that is when a journey with post-surgery food and care begins.

The Importance of Pre-Surgical Preparation

Post-operative care is just as important as quality preparation before the surgery. By preparing adequately for the procedure, you are allowing the body to prepare for “the shock”.

No matter which medical procedure you are going to go under, preparations before the surgery can include multiple but small steps that will help you heal and recover better. To put it shortly, preparing for surgery is consulting with your doctor. He/she will inform you what the post-surgery period looks like and how to adapt your household to fit the best your needs.

What Does Your Body Need After a Surgery?

The two main things you need after surgery are rest and some quality food. Keep in mind that your body went through a state of physical stress and that you need time to heal properly.

When it comes to rest, be sure to get enough sleep and don’t get out of the bed if you are not required to. Take a few days off of work to relax your body. This step is essential, no matter which procedure you went under.

Once you wake up, it’s time to get some quality nutrients in your body.

Post-surgery food is a delicate matter, just like the healing process after the procedure itself is. If you want to recover as soon as possible, you need to eat food which will speed the healing process and give you energy. Not only that, you should avoid food that can raise the risk of getting an infection.

How Does a Surgery Affect Your Body?

Surgery has a way of disturbing your metabolism, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you are experiencing some issues with the digestion tract.

What are some complications you can potentially experience? Well, it is perfectly reasonable to feel constipated and have a high glucose level. With these symptoms fatigue and lack of energy which can be prevented if you take an optimal level of proteins during the recovery period. These are just the most common symptoms.

To help you recover faster and lower the intensity of the previously mentioned symptoms, here are some tips that can help you:

Stay Hydrated

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Staying hydrated is the most important thing, not only for surgical recovery but for your overall health. During the post-surgical period, is it necessary to drink at least eight glasses of water per day to ensure that your body absorbs the medications quickly and your cells hydrated.

What Should You Eat?

The answer is pretty simple: whole foods. When it comes to post-surgery food, remember that the one that tastes the best has the worst nutrients. So, you should try to stay away from processed foods, dairy products, red meat, and sweets and instead opt for whole foods.

Let’s go back for a moment. Why is processed food not recommended as post-surgery food? Because it has a high amount of salt, most likely sugar and fat. As you might know, all of the mentioned ingredients are necessary for a human body to work correctly but should be eaten in moderation.

Salt, or sodium chloride, has multiple benefits for an organism. It can regulate blood pressure and help with digestion. However, if it is overly-consumed, salt can cause complications. According to, eating more salt than it is recommended can lead to high blood pressure, kidney failure and feeling bloated.

When it comes to eating more sugar, you need to know that it can cause more than a simple weight gain. Consuming more sugar can lead to heart diseases, depression, acne, and other conditions.

Now, let’s talk about fat. In one of our previous post, in which we wrote about three types of food you are not eating but should, we mentioned that you should focus more on eating “good” fat and that is true. This type of fat, the non-saturated one, is beneficial for the body. Be sure to keep in mind that, although saturated fats do not clog arteries, having a healthy lifestyle is going to lower the risk of getting coronary heart disease.

What Is Whole Food?

Whole foods is a name for multiple food groups and stand for eating foods that are unprocessed.

Let’s say you want to drink lemonade. When you think about it, lemonade is a processed version of lemon, while the lemon itself is a whole food. The same thing goes for, let’s say, onions and onion rings. As you can see, a philosophy behind entire foods is that you should stay away from fried and deep-fried meals.

Eating whole foods is the universal tip we can give you when it comes to post-surgery food.

Here are some food groups and nutrients you need to be taking if you want to recover efficiently:

Fibers to Treat Constipation

It is not uncommon to feel constipated after surgery. Unfortunately, feeling constipated after a procedure does not manifest the same to when you are constipated. Depending on what the procedure was, it can increase the pain in the wound, which then can result in your return to the hospital. So, you want to prevent constipation as much as you can!

To help your stomach work properly, including fiber is the way to go. Consuming fibers is the most recommendable post-surgery food tip we can give you.

Fortunately, fibers can be found in almost any types of food. The most significant sources of fibers are:
● whole-grain bread and oatmeal,
● different kinds of fruits and vegetables like pears, apples, beans, and legumes.

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In one of the previous paragraphs, we mentioned that you should avoid drinking and eating dairy products. Dairy products tend to constipate you even more.

Note: If you are thinking about getting supplements that contain a lot of fiber, scratch that option. Plenty of food that have a high level of fibers, especially whole food ones.

Carbohydrates Against Post-Surgical Fatigue

Carbohydrates are the type of food that can instantly boost your energy level. After surgery, they are going to come in handy since you are probably going to feel weak and experience fatigue.

Good Fats for Additional Energy

Who said fat is bad hasn’t heard of the “good fats”, the non-saturated one, like avocado, coconut and olive oil.

The main reason why we recommend including fat as post-surgery food is that it can help with the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Whole Grains for Breakfast

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Whole grains are not just great sources of fiber; they also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.

Although you are probably a fan of traditional American breakfast, you might want to stay away from bacon and eggs. Instead, why not make yourself a ball of oatmeal with some fresh fruits?

Note: If you had intestinal surgery, consult your doctor before including whole grains in your diet. Your doctor should give you a precise diet plan you should stick to in the following weeks of your recovery. Be sure to eat only types of post-surgery food that your doctor recommended.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

This tip shouldn’t come as a surprise since fresh fruits and vegetables are usually types of food you should consume daily.

When you start consuming more fruits and vegetables, you will notice one side-effect: having more gas. But don’t worry, it should pass in a day or two.

Here are some fruits and veggies you should give more attention to:

Different Types of Berries

As we mentioned before, there is no doubt that every medical procedure causes stress on the body. According to an article on oxidative stress, stress, whether it is caused by psychological, social or physical factors, manifests as increased production of free radicals. These free radicals “attack” molecule of the cells and can cause multiple diseases like cardiovascular, neural or issues with digestion. One of the ways to stop body radicals from disturbing cells is by taking in enough antioxidants.

To help your body get more antioxidants, try to include more berries in the diet. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries – whichever you prefer the most. All of the mentioned fruits not only kill free radicals but can boost collagen level and help with the capilar integration.

Note: If you want to reduce swelling, be sure to eat pineapple or drink a pineapple juice. This tropical fruit contains enzymes that can help you digest proteins better. By choosing pineapple, you will have an essential ally for a faster recovery.

Green Vegetables

What about vegetables, you may ask? Well, we don’t have that good news. The best plants to consume as a post-surgery food are spinach, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower. All the mentioned vegetables contain phytonutrients that boost your immune health.

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Lean Mean Protein

As we mentioned before, lean proteins play a significant role in your recovery. Did you know that collagen, one of the most significant lean protein, helps the tissue to tighten and knit again? Not only that, proteins will strengthen your muscles and boost your energy level.

What are the best sources of lean proteins? First, there are lean meats like chicken and pork. Second, there are dairy products. Consuming dairy can also help you get proteins but are not recommended due to their ability to cause constipation.

Now, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you probably know there are multiple sources of proteins that work just as well as lean meat. So, if you are not a fan of meat opt for nuts, beans, and tofu. If you are having trouble eating these types of food, we suggest protein powder, which is plant-based.

So, how much lean protein should you take? Well, according to, the typical amount of protein you should take is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, when you are recovering from surgery, that number should go up to 1.2 or even 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. Having in mind that kilogram is 0.453 pounds, you do the math.

Dairy Products As a Probiotic

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Consuming dairy products as post-surgery food is allowed only in the case when you have to take antibiotics. Commonly, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. While they can stop an infection, antibiotics can also disturb your intestinal tract and that is when dairy products come to the rescue.

Dairy products contain bacterias that help you keep your digestive tract working properly. Since they can also cause bloating and constipation, our advice is to be very careful when choosing to consume milk-based products. Instead of going for the milk or cheese, chose yogurt and kefir.

Note: Consuming fruit yogurts like Dannon doesn’t count as maintaining the health of your digestive tract. All fruit yogurts on the market contain a high level of sugar, which is not recommended for a post-surgical period. You can, however, include yogurt or kefir in your fruit-based smoothie.

What If You Have No Appetite?

No matter which surgery you went through, it is common to experience the lack of appetite. Especially if you’re feeling bloated and constipated, but don’t worry, there is a quick way to solve this problem as well. One word: smoothies.

Smoothies are a great way to take as many calories as your body needs without feeling like you are loading your stomach with too much food.

What should you include in a post-surgery smoothie?

Well, you can make a fruit-based smoothie or mix fruits and vegetables. But, whatever you do, be sure to add protein powder or some dairy products, like yogurt or milk. You can even add plant-based milk, like coconut or almond one.

Post-Surgery Food Recipes?

To help you get on your feet as soon as possible, we have prepared for you two easy recipes you can make under ten minutes. No hassle, just amazing, delicious results.

Protein Smoothie

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Protein smoothies are excellent post-surgery food because they can serve as a substitute for food if you don’t have an appetite. Not only that, they are easy to make and customize – you can adjust the protein smoothie to taste just as you want it.

A good protein smoothie consists of:
● Some liquid ingredients. You can choose between water, plan-based mil, yogurt, or kefir.
● Proteins that are in the form of nuts (like cashews). If you are not a big fan of nuts, try to a protein powder instead.
● Carbs and fats. Don’t forget that you can get carbs from fruits, especially the delicious bananas. When it comes to fat, be sure to include coconut oil or avocado.
● Fibers. For an option for fiber-rich food, we advise you to include chia seeds. These seeds contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.
● If you feel like something is missing in the flavor of this smoothie, you can always add cinnamon and cocoa powder (just a little bit).

So, how many slices or pieces of fruits and nuts should you include in this smoothie? Well, we would say as much as you like. Find what works best for you and mix the ingredients just the way you want it. Eating post-surgery food can be a bit annoying, so eating tasty and healthy meals can help you enjoy the process of eating. Who knows, maybe this type of smoothie will raise your appetite level?

Spring Salmon

According to, one of the easiest meals you can make is to salmon with veggies on the side. If you are hungry but don’t feel like getting out of the bed and spending an hour around your stove cooking a meal, then salmon with a few spring vegetables is the way to go.

For this recipe, you will need:
● One salmon fillet.
● Zucchini, squash, onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Our advice is to add vegetables you like; you can use paprika or some other.
● Olive oil.
● Spices like salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and whichever one is your favorite.

So, how to prepare it? Preheat the oven on 400 degrees and while the oven is getting hotter, slice all vegetables (the way you like it) and a salmon. Put all the ingredients in aluminum foil and then add olive oil and spices. Before putting the dish into the oven, wrap sides of foil inward to cover the meal. This dish should be baked for about 25-30 minutes.

As you can see, you can prepare spring salmon in just about 10 minutes. This is an easy meal that is both marvelous and nutritive.

What Is Your Experience With Post-Surgery Food?

As you can see, post-surgery food follows the principles of a healthy diet. By consuming food that we previously mentioned, you will help the body to recover faster and properly.

What was your experience with this type of food? Do you have any recipes you would like to share? Tell us in the comment section, down below.

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Last article update: 08/08/2019


Post-Surgery Food 101 – What You Need to Know (Recipes Included) (2024)


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