Diets for Aftercare and Outpatient Recovery


After surgery your body is in recovery mode, and diet is one of the most important components that can aid in the healing process.  Eating the right foods can help prevent unwanted side effects and give the skin what it requires for effective and efficient healing.  Follow these dietary suggestions on your road to healing, and you will establish good nutritional habits that can continue to benefit you for life.

Whole vs. Processed Foods

In general, whole foods are recommended for diets after surgery to maximize nutritional value and ensure higher fiber content.  Processed foods are often not as nutritionally beneficial.  For instance, it’s better to eat fresh vegetables directly from the produce stand, and use those in your cooking, than to seek those same benefits from a can of high-sodium vegetable soup. Processed foods often have more salt, sugar, and fat, but fewer vitamins and fiber.  It should be noted, however, that frozen and canned vegetables are generally just as nutritionally beneficial as their whole food counterparts.

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

Fruits and vegetables are particularly important for an aftercare diet.  For instance, they contain healthy doses of Vitamin C, which some studies have shown can aid in the healing process.  They are also high in fiber, which can help prevent constipation, a very common side effect after surgery.  Five- to ten servings of vegetables are recommended daily to meet the nutritional needs of the human body.

Whole grains are a filling and tasty source of fiber and vitamins.  When choosing bread and rice, select white over wheat, since they are less processed and therefore have retained more of their nutritional value.

Meats and Dairy

Amino acids have been shown to have significant healing benefits, and chicken, fish, and eggs are not only high in these, but in protein as well.  Protein is a crucial part of a balanced diet, but not all protein-rich foods are created equally, especially when it comes to aftercare.  Red meat is high in saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease, and it can also cause constipation after surgery.  Dairy, while having great nutritional benefits including protein, is a very common cause of constipation.  In addition, dairy causes increased lung secretions in those with a cough.  If dairy products are enjoyed during outpatient recover, then low fat versions are generally recommended for good health, to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Vitamin Supplements

If you are planning on taking vitamin supplements for recovery after surgery, select one containing iron and B-12.  They can help form new blood cells in bone marrow, which is important after certain kinds of surgery.  Vitamin supplements can be particularly helpful in meeting the nutritional needs of those patients who are experiencing a loss of appetite.  Glutamine amino acid supplements have also been shown to be beneficial for healing after surgery.  Yet there is such thing as too much of a good thing: certain vitamins can be harmful if taken in excess.

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is another symptom commonly experienced by patients after surgery. Eating smaller portions more frequently can help.  Experimenting with recipes to discover appealing foods is also useful, since tastes can change after surgery. Eating calorie-rich foods can help make up for the shortfall in caloric intake.  Loss of appetite is usually temporary, and for most patients a regular diet should replace the high-calorie diet when normal appetite resumes.

Diet has a direct impact on the speed and quality of a patient’s recovery after surgery.  A good diet will help ensure that a patient is healed sooner, able to return to normal activities and enjoy a better quality of life in the long run.

Guest Post contributed by Per Watson

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