Surgery heals and saves lives, but it is not without risks. Something as basic as your diet prior to surgery can affect the outcome. Your doctor and anesthesiologist will provide you with a preoperative food guide, which you'll want to follow to avoid complications such as aspirating stomach contents into your lungs. If you deviate from the prescribed eating plan in the 12 hours prior to surgery, let your doctor and anesthesiologist know.
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Two to Three Days Prior to Surgery
Eat a regular balanced diet with lean proteins such as chicken or fish, low-fat dairy, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Focus on getting all your nutritional needs met through food, as your doctor will likely recommend you stop taking vitamins a week prior to surgery to prevent risk of bleeding.
Make sure you're getting enough B vitamins, which help your body's immunity. Lean meats, dairy, green vegetables and whole grains provide B vitamins. For example, have a vegetable omelet, whole grain toast and low-fat milk for breakfast, turkey or tuna sandwich, going light on the mayo, with fruit and low-fat milk for lunch, and fish, whole grain rice and a leafy green salad for dinner.
Day Before Surgery
The day prior to surgery your doctor will ask you avoid whole grains and fiber from legumes and fruits and vegetables, and to limit dairy to two servings, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery.
You can have enriched grains such as white bread and rice, as these foods move through the digestive tract quicker than their whole grain counterparts. A sample diet the day before surgery includes a bowl of cereal and orange juice for breakfast, chicken noodle soup with a white dinner roll for lunch, and chicken with mashed potatoes for dinner.
Day of Surgery
The American Society of Anesthesiologists provides preoperative diet guidelines to ensure a safe surgery and reduce postoperative nausea. It advises that you shouldn't eat any solid food or dairy after midnight prior to your surgery. You can have clear liquids up to two hours before surgery. Approved liquids are water, coffee or tea without milk, fruit juices without pulp, soft drinks and sports drinks.
Avoid Junk Foods
Avoid foods that don't have nutritional value in the days leading up to surgery. This includes cookies, candies, chips and other junk foods.
Unless approved by your doctor, discontinue taking a vitamin a week before surgery. Discuss any medications you're taking with your doctor to find out how long you should continue to take them. Some medicines you can take as prescribed, whereas others you'll need to discontinue just prior to surgery.
Post Surgery Diet
Diet recommendations after surgery will vary significantly depending on the type of surgery you had. However, you will likely not have a normal appetite right away. You might even experience nausea after anesthesia.
According to UCLA Health, your diet is limited to ice chips and clear liquids for the first few hours after surgery to help decrease nausea and prevent vomiting. After the initial recovery period, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Include protein in your diet to help your body heal, as well as high-fiber foods to combat constipation, frequently caused by pain medication.