As with any surgery, your goal after undergoing a hysterectomy is to rebuild your strength so your body can heal. A healthy, well-balanced diet will give you the protein, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients you need to recover. It may also help prevent weight gain, a common risk after hysterectomy. If you have less of an appetite after your surgery, try eating small meals, with healthy snacks in between. Ask your gynecologist about the best dietary plan for your needs.
Get Your Fiber
A common side effect of a hysterectomy is difficulty with bowel movements. Your doctor may suggest medications, but eating foods that have plenty of fiber will ease elimination. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally high in fiber, as are whole grains. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recommends five to 10 servings of colorful fruits and veggies daily and five servings of grains. Some of the foods highest in fiber include **oat bran, amaranth, barley, raspberries, blueberries, pears, leafy greens, acorn squash, avocado and Brussels sprouts.**
Color Your World With Produce
Opt for fresh produce in a rainbow of colors, a sign of their high phytonutrient content. Phytonutrients are natural plant compounds that help boost immunity and prevent a range of chronic diseases, like cancer. Choose red foods like strawberries and red peppers; green foods like broccoli and kale; purple cabbage and grapes; yellow foods like ginger and lemon; and orange-colored produce like carrots and mango.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Increasing your fiber intake can lead to gas and bloating, so be sure to incorporate plenty of fluids into your daily regimen as you boost your consumption of fruits and veggies. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recommends getting **at least 8 cups of fluids a day, preferably water.** The institute advises only occasionally drinking 100 percent fruit juices and sticking with cranberry, apple or orange.
Choose Healthy Protein and Fat
Post-surgery, you need to rebuild lost protein. Opt for cold-water fish, lean meats like white-meat poultry and reduced-fat dairy foods like plain yogurt. For vegetarian protein, choose legumes or quinoa, which also supplies needed fiber. Healthy polyunsaturated fats are also recommended after your hysterectomy. **Olives and olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds like flax** are all good sources of healthy fats.
Prevent Disease With Phytoestrogens
After your surgery, you will be at greater risk for health conditions that occur more often in menopausal women. Authors of a review published in Pharamcognosy Research in 2011 looked at the existing scientific evidence and concluded that foods containing phytoestrogens -- plant compounds with weak estrogenic effects -- may help prevent conditions related to the loss of estrogen after menopause, including heart and other vascular diseases, breast cancer and osteoporosis. Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soy foods like **tofu, edamame, soy milk and tempeh; flaxseed; and whole grains.**
- MedlinePlus: Hysterectomy -- Laparoscopic -- Discharge
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Recovering From Your Hysterectomy
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Best Diet After Total Hysterectomy
- Today’s Dietitian: The Top Fiber-Rich Foods List
- University of Michigan Health System: Guidelines for Heart Health and Cancer Prevention
- Camellia Women’s Health: Post Hysterectomy Instructions
- Journal of Women’s Health: A Prospective Study of Weight Gain After Premenopausal Hysterectomy
- Pharmacognosy Research: Phytoestrogens in Postmenopausal Indications
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Phytoestrogens