What is a soft diet post surgery?
When we undergo surgery, the food requirements of our bodies change. Not only the type of food to consume but also the way it is prepared should be transformed. This transition from our normal diet to a bland or low fiber diet is known as a soft diet. Doctors recommend this soft diet after certain surgeries, especially any related to the stomach or gastrointestinal tract. The aim is to lower the possibility of diarrhea, gas, and nausea and to avoid pain and discomfort. A soft diet may also prevent complications such as high blood sugar levels and constipation, and provide crucial amounts of nutrients that the body can use to heal itself quickly.
A soft diet consists of food items that are soft in texture, easy to chew and swallow, simple in preparation and are easy for the stomach to digest. A dietitian can prescribe a soft diet post surgery, and also when to transition back to a normal diet. A soft diet is a temporary solution, as over the long term it cannot meet the entire nutritional requirements of your body.
How to transition to a soft diet?
- Eliminate foods that may cause bloating, gas or nausea, or which you can eat minimally even during normal circumstances.
- Eat each piece of food slowly, and chew thoroughly before swallowing. Remember, saliva is a digestive enzyme too. Food which reaches the stomach should be of a consistency of mashed potatoes, which makes it easier to digest.
- Hydrate your body with ample fluids. Although water should be your go-to beverage, you may also try herbal tea, milk, light soups, and yogurt.
- Food should be cut into pieces no larger than half an inch.
- All food items should be cooked until they are soft enough to be mashed. Grinding and pureeing should be the preferred cooking method.
- The best way to cook meats is to stew, roast or bake them.
What foods can be included?
What you consume post surgery affects how quickly you will recover. The focus should be on food which is nutritious and high on calories at the same since the body will be using more energy during this time. Whole grains, lean protein, fresh vegetables, and fruits should make up the majority of the meals. Let us explore the foods to include at the macronutrient level:
- Carbohydrates – Bread, waffles, pancakes, pasta, macaroni, noodles, and crackers softened with butter, jelly, soup, syrup or margarine.
- Fruits – Fruit should be preferably fresh and ripe, but canned or frozen items can also be consumed. Seeds and skin must be removed; the food may be cooked to soften it. Banana, melon, peaches, avocados, and pears are the best options.
- Vegetables – Vegetables must be well cooked, and seeds and skin should be removed. Only fresh vegetables must be used, and processed or pre-prepared dishes should be avoided.
- Protein – Lean protein is recommended, found in pork, chicken, turkey, and seafood. Red meat should be avoided because the presence of saturated fats may cause constipation. Protein can also be obtained from beans, nuts, and tofu. Proteins should be preferably baked and mashed. Eggs should be scrambled or poached.
- Dairy – Dairy products should be consumed only if you are able to digest it easily during normal circumstances. You should avoid dairy completely if you are lactose intolerant. Milk and milkshakes, plain yogurt, yogurt with soft fruits, cheese in sauces, cottage cheese and puddings are the best options.
- Desserts – Ice cream, gelatin, sherbet, plain cake, custard, and pudding are recommended.
- Spices – Spices should be ground to a powder.
What foods should be avoided?
It is important to note that the same foods will have to be avoided if they are cooked in a certain way, or if they have been combined with other incompatible food items. Junk food is a big NO! So is food which is hard to digest. Here are some guidelines to give you an idea:
- Starchy, refined foods such as bread and similar products with nuts, seeds, coconut, and dried fruits. Bread with a hard crust such as bagels.
- Vegetables which are difficult to mash even after cooking such as broccoli and carrots. Fried vegetables too should be avoided.
- Fruits that are raw and have the skin on such as apples, guava, and pears. Also, fiber-rich fruits like mango and pineapple should be removed for the duration.
- Spicy foods will irritate the stomach lining. Also, sharp spices should be avoided such as pepper, cloves, caraway seed and star anise.
It is common to lack an appetite following surgery, because all the medications in our system make us slow, and dull our taste buds too. It is important to consume the required amount of calories every day. Eat smaller meals if you cannot tolerate more than a few morsels at a time. Mix and match recipes to keep it interesting. Just because it is medically recommended, it does not have to be tasteless and boring. Above all, maintain a cheerful attitude on the road to recovery.
Good luck and healthy happy living to you!