Nutritional Therapy According to Surgical Procedure or Other Treatment

Nutritional Therapy According to Surgical Procedure or Other Treatment


If you are having a certain procedure or treatment that is known to have nutrition-related side effects, your doctors and nurses may recommend a specialized diet.

Blood and Marrow Transplant

Before and after receiving your transplant your doctor or nurse will prescribe an eating plan called the low-microbial diet. A low-microbial diet can minimize your risk of getting a food-borne illness while you have a weakened immune system, such as after chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant. Making sure your food is cooked to the proper temperature, washed well, and stored correctly are just a few important tips.

Foods that are especially likely to grow microbes (bacteria, viruses, yeast, and mold) include unrefrigerated milk and dairy, undercooked and raw eggs, unwashed and unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized juices, and vegetable sprouts. Homeopathic or herbal products should be avoided because they are not regulated by federal standards. These products may pose a health risk or interfere with the activity of prescription medication.

Bowel Resection or New Ostomy

After surgery to the gastrointestinal tract your doctor or nurse might recommend a low-fat, low-fiber diet to ease digestion. Our dietitians can provide further instruction on dietary techniques to manage gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. Patients typically are able to begin reintroducing high-fiber foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, to their diets three to four weeks following surgery.

You can find the amount of fiber and fat that’s in your food by looking at the label.

Esophageal Resection/Esophagectomy

After an esophagectomy, the anatomical structure of your gastrointestinal tract changes, altering the way you digest food. Patients may experience early satiety (feeling full quickly) and malabsorption (not absorbing the nutrients from your food properly), and or may digest nutrients too quickly.

The post esophagectomy diet is designed to help you implement a small, frequent meal pattern where your tolerance to sweets, dairy, and fat is tested. The diet calls for eating six or more small meals throughout the day instead of three main meals to help you eat the right amount of food. Chewing your food well and eating slowly, among other recommendations, will help with digestion.

Learn more about eating after an esophagectomy.

 Gastric Bypass (Gastrojejunostomy) or the Whipple Procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy)       

After a gastric bypass or surgery to your pancreas and duodenum (Whipple Procedure), the time it takes for you to digest a meal will change, and you may find it difficult to eat large meals.

To cope with this change, we recommend eating smaller portions at more frequent intervals. Eating slowly, chewing your food well, and starting with low-fat foods will help to prevent feelings of fullness, nausea, or diarrhea.

Some patients may have loose bowel movements after eating large portions of sweets, such as honey, fruit juice, soda, and cookies. If you have this problem, limit or avoid sugary foods and drinks. It may also help to limit your liquids to only 4 ounces during meals.

Learn more about eating after a gastric bypass or Whipple procedure.

Radiation Treatment for Esophageal Cancer

Difficulty chewing and swallowing solid foods are common side effects of radiation treatment for esophageal cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms you may have to follow a mechanical soft or puréed diet depending on your swallowing ability. You may also be required to change the thickness of your liquids for ease of swallowing or to eat foods prepared in a way that require less chewing than a regular diet.  A puréed diet is made up of foods that require no chewing, such as mashed potatoes and pudding. Other foods may be blended or strained to make them the right texture. Liquids, such as broth, milk, juice, or water may be added to foods to make them the right texture. A mechanical soft diet is made up of foods that require less chewing than in a regular diet. Patients on this diet can tolerate a variety of textures. Chopped, ground, and puréed foods are included, as well as foods that break apart easily without a knife.

Learn more about pureed and mechanical soft diets.

Radiation Treatment for Rectal Cancer

During radiation treatment for rectal cancer you may experience changes with bowel habits creating a need to follow a low-fat, low-fiber diet. On this diet you will be instructed to eat refined carbohydrates instead of whole grains, limiting your fiber intake to less than 3g per serving. Eating a low-fiber diet after surgery will help to avoid symptoms of bloating, gas, cramps, and increased bowel movements.