“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”



An effective post-op plan should approach recovery through a holistic view, considering prescription medication, physiotherapy, activity levels, living environment, lifestyle etc. And, we can’t forget how our diet plays a role in healing after surgery. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you heal faster, gain strength back quicker and improve your quality of life post surgery. 

Here are 5 Foods we Recommend for Anyone Healing After Surgery:

1. Probiotic-Rich Foods (Fermented Foods, Yogurt etc.)

Probiotics are commonly prescribed after surgery to prevent infection. While antibiotics are important for preventing infection, the side effects can wreak havoc on your gut. When you’re trying to focus on healing after surgery, the last thing you need to think about is having a stomach ache. 

Luckily, foods rich in probiotics can help combat the nasty side effects of antibiotics. The blandness and softness of things like kefir and yogurt lend themself well for anyone experiencing loss of appetite. 

2. Complex Carbohydrates 

Healing after surgery takes a toll on your body, and your body needs energy (calories) to aid the recovery process. It may seem like you need less food post surgery, especially when you’re sleeping and resting for the better part of the day. But, your body requires fuel to heal itself and gain strength back. 

The most effective way to give your body a boost of energy is through carbohydrates. Now, when it comes to carbohydrates, there are two types – simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. The difference? Complex carbohydrates are slower-digesting, packed with fibre and will be your friend post surgery – reach for food like oatmeal, whole grains, brown rice and sweet potatoes. 

Tip: If physiotherapy is a part of your post-op plan, aim to eat a serving of complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours before your session to keep your energy levels in check.

3. Homemade Vegetable Soups 

For many of us, eating soup brings back memories of trying to kick a cold. Soup really is a great option to help us heal and recover from illness. Opt for homemade soups instead of canned soups, which are generally a healthier option. Incorporating vegetables in your soup is a great way to increase your intake of important nutrients and minerals that will help your body heal after surgery

We suggest having you or your caregiver prepare some homemade soup before your surgery. Soup can easily be stored in the freezer, and reheated on the stove when you’re ready to eat it.

4. Smoothies

Smoothies are an effective way to increase your nutrient intake and keep you hydrated. Plus, you can easily add powdered supplements to your smoothies for additional nutrients (as long as you and your doctor agree supplements are the right decision for you). 

We suggest preparing smoothies in advance of your operation – simply add fruit and veggies to individual freezer bags and store in the freezer. Then, all you have to do is empty the freezer bag into a blender, add your liquid of choice (water or milk) and blend.

5. Lean Protein

Protein is responsible for helping us build strength and muscle mass. Many people need to rebuild strength and muscle mass post surgery, whether it’s because of an injury which resulted in the operation, or because of bedrest. Try incorporating the following into your meals: fish (also ideal for fatty acid intake), chicken, eggs, beans and lentils. 

Foods to Avoid After Surgery

Inflammation-causing foods can slow the recovery process, so it’s important to avoid them for the first few weeks after an operation. Try to cut out any highly refined or processed foods like chips, candy and fast food. 

Eating healthy can be a challenge when you’re healing after surgery, but at the very least, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Have you or your caregiver prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance of your operation – the less you have to worry about post surgery, the more you can focus on recovery  
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day during your recovery, to ensure you’re getting the adequate nutrition your body needs
  • Avoid highly processed foods and alcohol for the first few weeks after surgery
  • Remember to drink lots of water – this tip might seem obvious but dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, nausea and post-op complications 

Sending you well wishes for a quick recovery!

Riddle Village is a luxury retirement community offering Independent Living, Personal Care and Skilled Nursing accommodations. Our team of healthcare professionals understand the unique needs people have when healing after surgery, and have played an important role in many of our residents’ successful recoveries over the years. 

This article is for information purposes only. Always follow the medical advice from your doctor.