Post-Surgery Diet: How to Create a Great Meal Plan for Your Elderly Loved One

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senior care post surgery
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Creating a meal plan for your elderly loved ones is always challenging as is. Add to that surgery, and you’ll find yourself in a pretty tough spot. On the one hand, you have to research which foods are appropriate. On the other hand, you’ll also want the foods to be appetizing enough to get your loved one to enjoy their meals.

People tend to lose their appetite as they age, and surgery only increases this distaste. Thankfully, there are ways to solve this problem. In this article, we’ll go over which foods are appropriate post-surgery (and which ones aren’t!). Then we’ll give you actionable tips on how to make the meals more pleasant and appetizing.

Which Foods Are Appropriate After Surgery?

Once your older loved one leaves the hospital and moves into in-home care, it’s now up to you to do the meal prep! After surgery, you’ll want to stick with whole foods instead of processed foods. Whole foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies, fish, eggs, and nuts are healthier and support recovery. Meanwhile, processed foods‌ usually have high sodium, sugar, or fat content, which can cause inflammation and slow down the healing process.

Constipation is another common problem after surgery. This is because some painkillers cause bowel movements to slow down. Foods with high fiber are a great way to counter this. Fiber helps soften stool. It also adds more weight and size, making it easier for the body to pass the stool.

Lean proteins like chicken breast, seafood, and tofu are another great addition to a post-surgery diet. Our bodies need protein to rebuild themselves. That’s why it makes sense to give the body as much protein as it needs to recover.

Which Foods Should You Avoid After Surgery?

The foods to avoid after surgery depend on the type of operation. It’s best to talk with the doctor about any dietary restrictions. Here are some examples of when to avoid otherwise healthy foods:

  • Simple Sugars: After bowel surgery, you’ll want to avoid simple sugars – even the ones found in fruits! Fruits like apples, pears, and grapes can upset the stomach after surgery and cause diarrhea.

  • Protein – For kidney and liver problems, you need to regulate your protein intake. This is because excess protein builds up waste. Your liver and kidneys may have a harder time cleaning this up.

  • Hard Foods – After any oral surgery, go for soft foods like soups, beans, or pudding. Soft foods are not only easier to eat, but they also reduce the chances of infection.

  • Fiber – Fiber is usually great for recovery. However, there are some cases when it’s best to stay away from it. If you have a condition in your intestines or colon, low-fiber foods prevent obstruction or bloating.

Tips to Make Meals More Appetizing

Now that you know which foods are appropriate (and which ones to avoid), it’s time to tackle the next problem: getting your elderly loved one to enjoy the meals! Here are 5 tips you can follow:

  1. Diversify Meals – Coming up with several meal ideas is challenging, especially if there are dietary restrictions. However, it’s one of the best ways to boost the appetite! People get bored quickly with repeated meals. So spice it up, add color if you can, and keep your loved ones excited about what’s coming.

  1. Schedule Meals – Setting a meal schedule is a great way to boost your appetite. When we eat at the same time every day, our bodies begin to look forward to it. So by the time meal time arrives, your loved one will be ready for a good meal.

  1. Serve High-Nutrient Foods – If your loved one is struggling to finish their plate, you can go for high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods. Foods like eggs, broccoli, avocadoes, and legumes are packed with nutrients. A small serving of these can be sufficient already.

  1. Go For Easy-To-Eat Snacks – Another strategy you can go for is giving your loved one healthy snacks. Many people end up eating more when they snack rather than sitting down for meals. It’s not the most traditional way of doing things, but it can be very effective.

  1. Serve Smoothies – Smoothies are a great way to give your loved one the calories and nutrients they need. It’s much easier to down a smoothie than to eat a full meal, especially if you have no appetite. Just make sure your smoothies are healthy!

Aside from these tips, it’s important to track what’s working. Remember, everyone is different. We all have different appetites and patterns.

That’s why if you find that scheduled meals aren’t working, try the snacking strategy instead. If you find that your loved one loves one specific dish, serve that more often. These are tips, not rules. So play around with them to find what works best!

Conclusion: Getting Your Loved Ones Back to Full Strength

Helping your elderly loved ones recover from surgery is challenging. But it’s also one of the most fulfilling things you can do in your life. That’s why if they’re struggling to get the nutrition they need, this guide is a great place to start.

A proper meal plan will give them the calories and nutrients they need to recover. It’ll also slowly give them back their strength and pave the way to a full recovery!

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