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Fuel Your Recovery: Top Foods To Help You Heal After Surgery

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Fuel Your Recovery: Top Foods To Help You Heal After Surgery

Surgery is not easy for anyone. In many cases, without the right aftercare, our health can be at the most risk. Patients may neglect the importance of habits following the surgery once it is complete, but they can dictate the success of the procedure and sustainable recovery. Our diets are at the heart of how healthy we are, and when our bodies’ recovery systems go into overdrive following surgery, there is no time more important than our emphasis on a healthy diet.

If you have undergone surgery, or are scheduled to, we have collated a few food groups you need to prioritise following your treatments. Take a look at the following suggestions:

Why does food matter following surgery?

There are a huge number of reasons why food plays an important role following surgery. As with all invasive surgeries, your muscles and tissue have likely been torn to reach the target area. Repairing this tissue damage is key for seamless recovery, and nutritious foods can act as catalysts for repairing the damaged organs, muscles, and tissue. Not to mention that your immune system will be weakened following surgery, with all of your white blood cells rushing to the damaged area to get it strong again. This puts patients at risk of infections, which will lead to countless complications further down the line. Minerals such as vitamin C and zinc play a key role in supporting the immune system, but patients often neglect their relevance following surgery.

What foods are important following surgery?

Now for the nutrients. Several nutrients should be made a priority in your post-surgery diet. Here are all of the essentials to keep in mind:


Protein seems to be a ‘keyword’ in recent fitness and gym crazes. The truth is that protein should be a priority for everyone, not just the gym freaks who are trying to put on extra muscle volume. Protein is essential for muscle repair, especially following surgery. Lean meats are especially important during this time.

Protein Sources

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Dairy ( Milk, greek yogurt, cheese)
  • Nuts
  • Beans

Vitamin C

Vitamin C as mentioned, is vital in supporting the immune system, especially when it is so susceptible to infection following surgery.

Vitamin C Sources

  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not as readily mentioned as other essential minerals; however, it should be a focus in your post-surgery diet. Vitamin D is responsible for aiding bone health and calcium absorption, which is essential if bone structure has been manipulated in any way, such as if you have had tip rhinoplasty in London.

Vitamin D Sources:

  • Fatty fish
  • Cereals
  • Egg Yolks


You have likely heard of anemia, which is an iron deficiency due to a lack of red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body, which, if patients are lacking following surgery, can lead to complications. Patients may receive a blood count following their surgery to ensure their red blood cell levels are at a sufficient volume, and if not, they may be offered iron supplements. Iron can also be digested within the diet, however, and will support the increase of essential red blood cells for surgery.

Iron Sources:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Whole grains (whole oats, whole bread)
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits

Healthy fats

Some people hear the mention of fat and think of the worst. But the truth is that there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats are essential for maintaining sustained energy following surgery. While your immune function is down, your body will be weak, and you will experience extreme spells of tiredness. Some patients might be tempted to reach for a fatty dessert filled with sugar, but this will not support optimal recovery. Healthy fats will offer sustainable energy, and provide an energy store for when you are feeling your weakest.

Healthy fat sources:

  • Nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Avocados
  • Fish
  • Dark chocolate
  • Olives
  • Tofu
  • Coconut oil

Fiber for digestion

Fibre is also essential to support digestion during this time of recovery. Constipation is a common symptom following surgery, as your body will be out of its usual rhythm. Fibre can support digestion and help the process during this difficult time.

Fiber sources:

  • Beans
  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Smoothies packed with fruits and vegetables


Following your surgery, you will likely be dehydrated due to your body losing a large volume of fluids. You will also have anesthesia present in your system that needs to be flushed out, and drinking plenty of water can support this. Be sure to drink at least 2 liters of water a day. Electrolytes are also key in helping your body absorb nutrients, so consider adding some supplements to your water to encourage this fluid abortion.

How to deal with appetite loss after surgery

Do not feel discouraged if you are experiencing appetite loss following your surgery. It is very common, but tackling this and ensuring you are fueling your body is key. Eating smaller meals, or snacks more frequently is a great way to eat the right volume of foods, but in separate, more manageable portions throughout the day. Liquid meals are also an option, if necessary. Smoothies and shakes will suffice for the first day or two, but be sure to slowly include solid foods where possible as you continue through recovery.

Listen to what your body is telling you

All in all, you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Depending on what surgery you have undergone, you will experience a shift in what your body is craving for. For example, you may not have an appetite at all, or perhaps you feel the need to eat more voluminous meals throughout the day. Everyone’s experience differs, but one thing is certain, having a nutritious diet following surgery can support a complete recovery.

Speak to your doctor/surgeon

Your surgeon of choice is the best point of reference when it comes to a post-surgery recovery plan. If you have any concerns before or after your surgery, be sure to get in touch with them for clarity on any questions or symptoms you may be experiencing. Depending on your surgeon might offer a recommended diet to follow, depending on your unique circumstances.

Bottom line

Overall, healing after surgery is not an overnight process. Although our bodies have an innate ability to get into action to start targeting the wounded area, we still need to invest in a great diet to support our bodily systems during this difficult time. Foods such as proteins, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals should all be factored into your meals after surgery. Food will be the last thing on your mind, but if you want to get back to being the old, mobile version of yourself, be sure to plan out your meals ahead of time. Have support ready to help you with your shopping and meal preparation if you have been instructed to stay in bed. Let your body rest, fuel it with the right foods, and you will soon be the same, if not a healthier version of yourself.

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