What I Ate Post-surgery and How It Helped Me Recover
Last updated: January 2022
Editor’s note: Talk to your healthcare provider about your particular situation as it is best to check with your healthcare team before starting any new supplements or diets.
Breast cancer surgeries
I am always so surprised that with all the innovations in western medicine, it is still so rare to have a doctor talk to you about what you are eating. I took this into my own hands and decided that I would figure out the best things to eat to help speed my recovery. I have had a double mastectomy with direct to implant reconstruction. Think of it as a “two for one” surgery… two big surgeries simultaneously. I was so grateful to have access to this incredible innovative surgical team, however, I knew that my recovery would be a bit more intense. I knew the recovery would be hard and long, and that the standard protocol was to “take it easy and rest”. Well, I thought there must be something more to do to help myself. So, I started to research and read lots of books on healing and cancer in particular. They all had their own advice and thoughts on cancer, how to heal it and why it happens, however, the one thing they all had in common was diet. Every single one of them was focused on eating plant-based. This was the one common denominator in all my research.
As part of my preparation for surgery, I also started to see a naturopathic doctor who is also an MD. I brought my research to him and together we discussed diet. He confirmed that eating a plant-based diet would be the best way to heal post-surgery, and he also suggested that I eat this way in general. At a time when there were so many things in my life that were not up to me, I thought the one thing that is still up to me is what I put in my body. I was always a very clean eater as I bet most of you are as well, however, I decided to go completely vegan and gluten-free for 6 weeks post-surgery. I took out all foods that could cause inflammation and ate only foods that were high in vitamins and nutrients but also easy to digest.
Foods that are easy to digest and lots of hydration
I ate lots of soups and stews made with vegetables. This felt very nourishing and comforting. The biggest benefit was they were easy to digest. In my experience when you give your digestive system a break, your body will be able to focus on healing your surgical site. This simple and clean diet was easy to access as well because this soup lasts for a week in the refrigerator and freezes really well. I also focused on drinking 3 liters of room temperature water each day. This was key especially with all the medicine I had to take. When I would go see my surgeons, they were amazed at how I was healing, and they asked what I was doing.
Keeping it simple
I have shared this with many patients since and they have all had great results. The key here is just to remember to keep it simple. Your body has so much to do to heal and recover, the goal is to give your digestive system a break and to nourish yourself with healthy vitamin-packed foods to optimize healing.
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