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Nutrition After Surgery

Woman having glass of water at kitchen sink.

Some people feel a little nauseated after surgery. This is often from medicines, dehydration, or simply the stress of surgery. Don’t push yourself to eat more than you comfortably can. Listen to your body and you’ll know what to eat and when. If you were on a special diet such as low-salt before surgery, ask your healthcare provider if you should follow it during recovery.

Special note: Be sure to follow any specific post-op instructions from your surgeon, nurse, or dietitian.

Start slowly

  • Start off with clear liquids and soup. They are easier to digest.

  • Progress to a semisolid (soft) diet (mashed potatoes, applesauce, and gelatin) as you feel ready and can tolerate.

  • Slowly move to solid food. Don’t eat fatty, rich, or spicy foods at first.

  • Eat smaller amounts, more often.

Drink fluids

  • It’s normal to lose fluids during surgery. Rehydrating your system is important as it helps you feel better and balances the chemicals in your body called electrolytes.

  • Unless told not to, drink at least 6 glasses of clear liquids (such as water, apple juice, or ginger ale) a day. You may want to avoid carbonated drinks or let them lose their fizz before drinking them.

Good nutrition

  • Good nutrition helps your body build and repair tissue and heal wounds.

  • Eat a low-fat, high-protein diet or as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Whole-grain cereal, and the protein in foods like fish and chicken may help repair tissue affected by surgery.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Wanda Taylor RN PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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