Nutrition Tips When Having Surgery

Author: The Tracey Birnhak Nutritional Counseling Services
Content Contributor: The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Reviewed: January 17, 2020

Nausea after surgery may be a common side effect. It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations on anti-nausea medications. Some patients find that ginger can be effective at helping to reduce nausea associated with surgery. Try adding 1-2 grams (roughly a teaspoon) of ground ginger in boiling water and drink during the day when you feel queasy or nauseated.

Good eating habits are a big part of healing after surgery. Eating a mix of healthy foods, with protein and vitamin C, helps your body heal after surgery.

Vitamins: Fruits and veggies are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – a substance found in plants that helps to keep you healthy.

  • Try for at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies a day (about 2 ½ cups).
  • At least 2 of these servings should be foods that are rich in Vitamin C. Samples are: citrus fruits like orange or grapefruit, kiwifruit, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Veggies such as red and green peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, potatoes, and most leafy green veggies. 

Protein: Samples of high protein food are:

  • Dairy foods such as eggs, egg whites, milk, Greek yogurt, and so on (keep in mind low-fat choices).
  • Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, other poultry, beef, lamb, pork or fish.
  • Beans (legumes) such as lentils, kidney beans, black beans, chick peas, navy beans, split peas.
  • Nuts (low salt) such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts.
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, whole wheat.
  • Read more tips about protein during cancer treatment. 

Supplements: If the foods you eat have a mix of fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains, you may not need to take supplements. If you want to take vitamins or other supplements, please talk to your healthcare provider before taking anything.

Find recipes and more tips about eating habits during and after cancer on OncoLink.

For recipes, up to date research and helpful information on food and lifestyle, visit The American Institute for Cancer Research.

 

*NOTE: If you have special diet for a health problem, please talk to your healthcare provider before using these steps.

References

Toth et al, Ginger (Zingiber officinale): an alternative for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting Phytomedicine 2018;50(15): 8-18 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711318302885?via%3Dihub Accessed 1/15/20 

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