When spine surgery is in your future, many things are likely to pop into your head, such as what type of post-op discomfort you may experience and what your physical therapy routine might be like as you recover. However, it’s just as important to give some thought to your eating habits and diet after spine surgery because the foods you eat on a regular basis can have a noticeable impact on the body’s ability to heal and recover. With this in mind, consider the following tips for eating right after spine surgery.
1. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
Regardless of the type of spine surgery you’ll be having, it’s not likely you’ll be able to get back to your normal cooking and meal prep routine right away. While you may be able to plan for meal deliveries, another option is to prepare meals ahead of time before your surgery and place them in the freezer. This way, all you’ll have to do is heat things up. Your pre-surgery meal prep can also include:
• Stocking up on essential groceries
• Moving frequently used dishes, utensils, and pans to lower shelves
• Asking friends, family members, or neighbors if they would mind bringing some fresh food or prepared dishes over during your recovery
2. Add High-Quality Calories to Your Diet
Metabolism naturally increases after most types of surgery, which means you’ll need to consume more calories as you recover to make sure your body has sufficient energy. However, factor in the fact that you’ll be less active during the initial weeks or months following spine surgery, even if yours is a minimally invasive procedure such asvertebroplasty surgery. Santa Monica spinal surgery patients should keep in mind that while it’s not a good idea to go on a diet post-surgery, you also don’t want to overindulge in foods likely to pack on the pounds and increase inflammation. Instead, increase your intake of high-quality calories with foods that include:
• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains
• Salmon and other oily fish
• Oaks, buckwheat, squash, winter root veggies, sweet potatoes, and other healthy sources of starch
3. Don’t Forget Your Protein and Dairy Requirements
During the healing process, your body needs protein and important nutrients found in dairy products, especially calcium and vitamin D, which play a key role in bone tissue formation and restoration. The amino acids in protein help with tissue regeneration and wound healing. Healthy, nutrient-rich protein and dairy choices include:
• Skinless chicken, turkey, pork chops, and other lean meats
• Poultry and fish
• Lentils, seeds, and eggs
• Milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and other low-fat dairy products
4. Enjoy Multiple Small Meals
Because your metabolism will be faster after spine surgery, opt for a series of smaller meals instead of three big ones to help your body break down food faster and allow your healing spine to get more essential nutrients quicker. Plus, larger meals may increase bloating and gas, which could leave you feeling uncomfortable. Also, since constipation is a common problem after spine surgery, watch your intake of caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, white rice, breads, and other foods that typically contribute to this problem as you plan your small meals and snacks.
5. Consider Supplements
Talk to your Santa Monica spine surgeon about supplements if you don’t think you’ll be able to get sufficient vitamins and minerals from dietary sources alone following your surgery. Also, let your pharmacist know about any supplements you plan to take so possible interactions with your post-surgery pain meds can be avoided. While it’s fine to turn to supplements to round out your nutritional needs, it’s better to get the bulk of your vitamins and minerals from food sources.
Whether you have major spine surgery or a minimally invasive procedure, you’ll get better much sooner if you eat right and get the proper nutrition your body needs to heal. You should plan your post-surgery meals ahead of time to make sure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible. The experienced professionals at The Spine Institute can give you all the information you need to make your recovery as safe and comfortable as possible. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.