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5 Tips for What to Eat After Thyroid Surgery

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What to eat after thyroid surgery? Is a special diet required? How will I feel? Can food help me recover more quickly?

These are common questions leading up to thyroid surgery. You do not need the low iodine diet immediately after surgery, only for radioactive iodine treatment weeks to months after surgery. But you want to be prepared. What can you eat to help with post-surgery side effects and with a smooth recovery. Here are 5 tips for what to eat after thyroid surgery, along with lots of meal and snack ideas.

Soft Foods

Thyroid surgery requires anesthesia and being put on a ventilator.  After the surgery, people often have a sore, dry, or scratchy throat as a side effect from the breathing tube.  This is normal and will heal rather quickly.  Fatigue sets in as the anesthesia wears off and from the stress on your body of surgery.  Eating soft foods can help with both of these.  Soft foods will not irritate an already sore throat and require less energy for chewing. 

Examples of Soft Foods to Eat After Thyroid Surgery

  • scrambled eggs
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • grilled cheese sandwich
  • yogurt
  • oatmeal
  • ice cream
  • smoothies
  • shakes
  • mashed potatoes with gravy
  • pasta with smooth marinara sauce or alfredo
  • soup – tomato, chicken noodle, vegetable, minestrone, etc
  • pudding

Cold Foods

Many people often experience a low-grade fever after surgery. If this is a low grade fever in the first three days after surgery, it is likely related to the stress on the body, inflammation from the surgery, and exposure to the body of outside materials during the surgery. Also, some medications can also have a side effect of fever you receive may also have a side effect of fever. Eating something cold can help you feel less uncomfortable if you do have a non-serious post operative fever.

Please note: You should always contact your doctor if you experience any fever after surgery. They will be the best judge if this is a normal post-operative response or a sign of infection or other issues.

While I did not have a fever, I felt very warm after both of my surgeries. The compression socks they place on your legs after surgery can make you feel hot. Hospitals are often kept on the warm end of the temperature spectrum as well.

Cold foods can often soothe an irritated throat, as described above.

Smoothies, shakes, scrambled eggs, yogurt, soup, ice cream, mashed potatoes, peanut butter sandwich, pasta, cheese sticks, meatballs, jello

Examples of Cold Foods to Eat After Thyroid Surgery

  • yogurt
  • ice cream
  • popsicles
  • smoothies
  • shakes
  • thawed frozen fruit
  • jello

Protein Rich Foods

Your body needs protein to heal after surgery. Remember, protein is the building block of all tissues in the body, so you need it to heal, form new skin/scar tissue, etc. Generally, most of us eat more than enough protein in our regular lives. However, with the fatigue and decreased appetite experienced after surgery, you should focus on protein rich foods to ensure you are getting the nutrition you need.

Examples of Protein Rich Foods to Eat After Thyroid Surgery

  • meatballs
  • peanut butter sandwich
  • cheese sticks
  • yogurt
  • smoothies
  • chocolate milk
  • tuna salad
  • chicken salad
  • scrambled eggs
  • refried beans

Snacks

Managing pain is key for a smooth recovery. Staying on top of pain medication is key. However, many pain medications can irritate the stomach and need to be taken with food. You don’t want to eat a full meal every 4-6 hours with your medication, so having snacks ready is incredibly helpful.

Frequent snacking also helps with fatigue. It can feel less exhausting to eat a small snack. Also, people often feel a boost of energy after eating small snacks versus sleepiness after a large meal.

A good snack will balance some protein for fullness and carbohydrates for quick energy.

Examples of Snacks to Eat After Thyroid Surgery

  • yogurt with berries
  • half of a sandwich
  • cheese and soft crackers
  • graham crackers in milk
  • banana with peanut butter
  • pudding
Banana with peanut butter, thawed frozen fruit, grilled cheese sandwich, cheese with soft crackers, pudding, watermelon, refried beans, tuna salad, chicken salad, chocolate milk, popsicles

Fluids

It can be easy to get dehydrated after surgery. You aren’t moving around as much, so you don’t think about drinking water. You are tired, so getting up to go to the bathroom feels exhausting. During your hospital stay, you often receive IV fluids. It can take you a few days to get all of that out of your system – so you may feel like you are going to the bathroom all the time even though you are not drinking fluids now.

Feeling warm or feverish, as mentioned above, can also increase your need for fluids. Additionally, fluids can help flush out medications received during surgery.

Ways to Increase Fluid Intake After Thyroid Surgery

  • Bring home the hospital water jug and set a goal for how often to drink all of it (depending on the size).
  • Have fluid focused meals or snacks – smoothies, jello, soup, watermelon.

I hope you find some helpful tips to help what to eat after thyroid surgery. As you can see from the lists above, many foods appear on several lists. Yogurt, smoothies, pudding, soft fruit, and soup are just a few. I’ll be posting some recipes in the next weeks to help. I highly suggest you plan ahead with food ready-to-eat or requiring little preparation before hand. Let me know what you find helpful after your thyroid surgery.

3 thoughts on “5 Tips for What to Eat After Thyroid Surgery”

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