If you have had surgery, the food you eat can make a great impact on your recovery and on how quickly your wound heals. Eating the right foods can prevent complications, such as constipation and high blood glucose, and provide the necessary building blocks of protein your skin needs to heal quickly.
One of the best things you can do to improve your nutritional status when you are recovering from surgery is to focus on whole foods. That means to choose foods that are “whole” or unprocessed.
For example, an orange would be a whole food. Orange juice, though, would be a more processed version of that food. A baked potato is a whole food, while a french fry is more processed and less healthy.
So, aim to obtain most of your nutrition from these whole foods, which is actually a healthy way to eat every day, not just the weeks following surgery
Lean protein can be found in lean meats, such as chicken. Seafood, including fish, is also an excellent source of lean protein. Red meat is not recommended because of the high level of saturated fat and because it can trigger constipation.
If you don’t eat meat protein comes from many sources other than meat. Consider nuts and beans
Dairy products are also a source of protein, but they can cause constipation, so they should be used in moderation.
Whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Be sure to choose whole grain breads and cereals whenever possible, rather than the refined “white” versions.
Rice is a great way to add whole grains to your diet, but many types of rice are so processed that the nutritional value is minimal. For both nutrients and fiber content, choose brown rice or other varieties that are not processed, and avoid white rice.
Breakfast is an ideal time to add whole grains and fiber to your diet. Choose oatmeal or another whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread, and fresh fruit for your morning meal.
It is important to include fiber in your diet as you are recovering from surgery. Not only are high-fiber foods healthier than their low-fiber counterparts, but fiber also plays a major role in preventing constipation, a common complication after surgery.
Constipation is more than just annoying after surgery, it can actually increase pain and the chances of returning to the hospital during the recovery period.
Rather than adding a fiber supplement to your day, such as psyllium husks, consider adding high fiber foods to your diet and obtaining fiber in a more natural way. Supplementing is not a bad idea, but fiber from food tends to work better to prevent constipation when taken with ample water.
Enjoy these high-fiber foods:
Whole grain bread: Look for breads that use whole grains and are darker in color. White bread is typically too refined to be a good source of fiber.
Whole grains: This would include corn, oatmeal, and other grains.
Fruits: Fresh fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and fiber.
Vegetables: Vegetables are an excellent source of fiber
Cereal: Not all cereal has a high-fiber content..
Fresh fruit and vegetables contain both nutrients and fiber, which are essential to healing during your recovery from surgery. One side effect of eating more fruits and vegetables than usual is gas. While this can be an annoying or embarrassing problem, it should pass within a day or two.
If the gas is so severe that you feel stomach pressure or abdominal cramping, you can decrease your intake of fresh produce or use a gas reliever (simethicone) to relieve gas that is present.
Dairy products are an excellent source of protein, which is essential to healing after surgery. Many people, though, find that consuming dairy products can lead to constipation after surgery. There is also evidence that dairy products can increase secretions in the lungs, so if you have a chronic cough, it may be worthwhile to avoid dairy products in the short term.
If you can eat dairy products without becoming constipated, focus on low-fat items, such as skimmed milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt. Cheese, low-fat or not, should be eaten in moderation until you can determine if eating it will cause you to become constipated.
Immediately following surgery, the patient’s body contains anesthesia and medications. These drugs tend to dehydrate the patient, which is why pushing fluids is vital following joint replacement. The more water a patient drinks, the sooner the anesthesia will be flushed out. Hydration also helps decrease constipation, a common side effect of anesthesia and some pain medications.
Constipation is common after surgery because prescription pain medications—opioids, in particular—are often used in the days following a surgical procedure and have a known side effect of decreasing the movement of the intestines.
These foods may contribute to constipation:
Dried or dehydrated foods: These include dried fruits .
Processed foods: These foods have little fiber and may be high in sugar and fat.
Cheese: Cheese is high in fat.
Milk and dairy products: Especially avoid full-fat dairy products, including ice cream.
Red meat: Red meat is often high in saturated fat.
Sweets: These include pastries, candies, cakes, and other sugary foods.
Sometimes it is difficult to eat after surgery because of a lack of appetite. This typically passes a few days after surgery, but it is important to continue eating nutritious foods during this part of your recovery. Some individuals truly struggle to consume enough food in the early part of the recovery phase, and these tips are intended for those people.
If you are not constipated and are still having difficulty with your appetite, consider calorie-dense foods, such as a smoothie, butter ,beverage (juice, lemonade, soda) ,high-calorie snacks, such as nuts and seeds, as necessary. When you are able to return to a healthier diet, eliminating saturated fats and sugar while emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, it is important to do so.
What you eat in the days and weeks following surgery can help determine how quickly you heal and how well you feel while recovering. Take the time to eat well, choosing foods you know to be healthful and nutritious, and be sure to eat enough calories to sustain your body through the healing process.
Professional Dietician services are always available to guide you and formulate a diet plan for you. Consult your treating doctor for fixing an appointment with the dietician.