What to Eat After Surgery: Helping the Body Heal

by | Feb 1, 2022 | 0 comments

What to Eat After Surgery?

If you’re someone who’s about to have or has recently had elbow surgery, this article is for you. We’ll share four suggestions for what to eat after surgery.

Needing Elbow Surgery: The Initial Shock

When I was told I had to have elbow surgery, I was terrified. I’d never had surgery before, never had a baby, and was pretty much a healthy person my entire life.

So, when the urgent care nurse practitioner approached me after my elbow X-ray was back and said, “You’re definitely going to need surgery…” I lost it.

A million things ran through my mind. I was afraid of going under anesthesia. I was worried that my elbow would hurt. I didn’t know what to eat after surgery to make sure that I didn’t have swelling.

I felt lost.

However, as a nurse, I knew there were places I could turn to for answers. I had loads of “medical friends” I could talk to. I started on a path to learn more.

Reduce Swelling: Eating Well After Surgery

Around the time of my surgery, a friend of mine was seeing a nutritionist for some health issues. He knew I wanted to recover fast and well after my elbow surgery. So, he brought home a list of foods that his nutritionist recommended for someone who was having surgery.

I felt relieved. Now, I would know what to eat after surgery to ensure that I didn’t suffer from increased pain due to swelling and inflammation.

What to Eat After Surgery: A List of Healthy Options

1) Avoid Foods that “Stop You Up”

what to eat after surgeryMost surgical patients will receive narcotic and/or opioid prescriptions after the procedure. These types of meds can cause constipation. So, you’ll want to look for high-fiber foods which will help keep you regular.

High-fiber food options include fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. Leafy green vegetables, like kale, spinach, or collard greens, are especially good to eat after surgery. Berries also provide a significant amount of vitamin C, which can rebuild soft tissue, allowing your incision site to heal faster.

2) Healthy Fats Strengthen the Immune System

Healthy fats are an excellent choice after surgery. Healthy fats may decrease the risk of infection. Some ideas for healthy fats include healthy oils (like coconut or sesame), nuts/seeds, and avocados. I’ve found keeping a bag of whole almonds on me during the day has helped me snack healthy after surgery.

3) Fill Up on Protein

During surgery, the medical team had to do a lot of slicing and dicing (no pun intended). Anyway, when they did that, they affected the muscles, tissues, nerves, joints, and ligaments inside your body.

Meats and seafood help repair the damage done during the surgery. The protein and iron regrow tissue and produce collagen, which can support effective healing. Even if you abstain from meat products, you may find seafood, such as salmon, as a healthy choice for what to eat after surgery.

4) Spice it Up!

I brought my dog for an annual wellness checkup. I told the vet how my pup’s hind legs seemed to be bothering him, as he ages. Interestingly enough, the vet suggested a spice that is also good for surgical healing.

Turmeric! Turmeric can reduce inflammation, which eases swelling.

Additionally, things like green tea or fresh lemon can also be good options for after surgery.

Have questions? Happy to connect to support your healing after surgery. Click here to learn more.

About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC, RYT (200) is a board-certified holistic nurse, registered yoga instructor, and reiki master.

Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is a certified coach, nature lover, and avid meditator.

Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull. She enjoys gardening, jigsaw puzzles, farming, music, and hiking.


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