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Foods to Avoid Before Surgery

author image Jill Andrews
Jill Andrews began writing professionally for various online publications since 2009. Andrews holds a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry/nutrition from Memorial University in St.John's, Newfoundland. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Foods to Avoid Before Surgery
bowl of mint candy to be avoided before surgery Photo Credit arinahabich/iStock/Getty Images


More than 15 million people in the U.S. have surgery annually, according to MedlinePlus. The reasons for surgery vary and can include preventing or relieving pain, decreasing symptoms or improving body functions. If you are preparing for surgery, there are certain foods that you should avoid to prevent complications or uncomfortable symptoms.

All Solid Foods

Foods to Avoid Before Surgery
surgeons in surgery Photo Credit Jochen Sands/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The National Institutes of Health advises that you eat nothing in the 24 leading up to your surgery. It suggests sipping on water may be acceptable. Consult your doctor about this. Similarly, the University of Michigan advises that children should eat nothing after midnight preceding an operation. An empty stomach is required for proper use of anesthesia. In addition, eating poses a greater risk for vomiting foods into the lungs during the surgery.

Gums, Mints and Candies

Foods to Avoid Before Surgery
colorful candy on table Photo Credit opreaistock/iStock/Getty Images

The National Institutes of Health advises that you should not consume gums, mints or candies after midnight before your surgery. It advises that you limit what you drink and eat to avoid vomiting food into your lungs during surgery.


Foods to Avoid Before Surgery
bucket of beer bottles Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

According to the National Institutes of Health, you should not consume alcohol within 24 hours of your surgery. A study in the 2010 "BMC Health Services Research" says ceasing alcohol consumption before surgery can reduce the risk of complications. This study states that people who smoke and consume alcohol daily can develop two to four times more complications after surgery than those who do not.

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