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Diet After Colon Resection Surgery

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Diet After Colon Resection Surgery
After colon resection, you must alter your diet temporarily. Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

It's common to have questions about what you can eat after surgery, especially gastrointestinal surgery. Physicians recommend a colectomy, or colon resection, to treat a variety of diseases, including colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. The procedure involves removing the affected portion of your colon to prevent the progression of disease or stop bleeding. After surgery, it's typical to remain in the hospital for a few days. Doctors usually recommend a liquid diet, followed by a soft diet once you're discharged, according to the University of Chicago Hospital. It crucial to follow your doctor's guidelines.

Clear Liquids

Diet After Colon Resection Surgery
Fruit juice. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

After a colon resection, your bowels need time to heal and start working again. For the first day or two after you leave the hospital, your doctor may recommend sticking with clear liquids since they require very little digestion. On a clear liquid diet, you typically stick with fruit juices, clear broth soups, tea, flavored ices and other clear beverages. A clear liquid diet lacks nutrients, so doctors usually only recommend it for brief periods.

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Full Liquids

Diet After Colon Resection Surgery
Chicken soup. Photo Credit RafalStachura/iStock/Getty Images

Your doctor assesses your progress and determines when you are able to move to full liquids, which provide a bit more nutrition. A full liquid diet consists of foods from the clear liquid diet as well as additional liquids. It's common to have milk, vegetable juice, smooth soups, yogurt and other foods with a liquid consistency. With proper planning, a full liquid diet can provide enough protein, fat and calories, but it may lack certain nutrients, such as vitamin B-12, thiamin and iron, according to GI Associates and Endoscopy Center.

Soft foods

Diet After Colon Resection Surgery
Soft cereal. Photo Credit VankaD/iStock/Getty Images

Once your bowels are working well enough, your doctor can move you on to a soft diet. Your physician provides specific guidelines such as serving sizes and meal frequency. It's important to follow your doctor's guidelines to facilitate healing. A soft diet typically includes foods such as bread, cooked tender vegetables, cheeses, cooked soft cereals, tender meat that's not fried and foods from the full liquid diet.

Reintroducing Regular foods

Diet After Colon Resection Surgery
Bananas are a soft, easy to digest food. Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images

You may experience bowel problems after colon resection surgery. Your colon plays host to enzymes and complex colonies of bacteria that aid digestion. It may take a while for the enzymes and bacteria to return to normal. Until then, you may experience diarrhea and other digestive issues. You can minimize digestive problems by eating foods that are easy to digest, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Talk to your doctor about the best way to begin introducing regular foods. Easy-to-digest foods are nonspicy, nongreasy and mild in taste, such as bananas, boiled rice, refined hot cereals, apple sauce, potatoes, pasta and yogurt.

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