Nutrition for Preparation and Recovery from Surgery and Procedures

Good nutrition is essential to preparing the body for surgery and to ensure a good recovery.

Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods can make you feel good for a brief time but then you feel tired and emotionally drained. These processed foods can cause inflammation throughout the body and may contribute to complications or longer recovery. Try to eat real foods like fruits and vegetables as well as grains and meats.


Protein is needed to repair tissue, maintain muscle mass and decrease inflammation.  Make sure to include protein at each snack and meal. Eggs, low-fat cheese or cottage cheese, yogurt and plain baked chicken, all contain protein. Vegetarians can try soy, nuts, eggs, dairy, and beans.

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is needed to make a protein called collagen and is needed for repairing tendons, ligaments and healing surgical wounds. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi fruit, baked potatoes, broccoli and bell peppers.

Vitamin D and Calcium

Calcium and vitamin D are nutrients important to form healthy bones.  If your surgery or procedure is related to your bones, be sure to get enough of these nutrients from supplements or things like dairy products.  Talk to your doctor about the right amount for you.


Many pain medications can cause constipation.  Make sure that you eat plenty of fiber and drink lots of water to help relieve these symptoms.  Certain fruits such as prunes or prune juice are helpful along with lots of other fruits and vegetables.

For more information on how to eat a healthy diet that supports positive mood, review Chapter 3: Eating in a Modern World and Chapter 4: The Best Food for You in Well to Do: A Guide to Take Charge, Set Goals and Improve Your Health.