Thyroid surgery is a common procedure. More than 12% of Americans will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. While some of them may respond to non-invasive treatment, others require surgery.
Regardless of what type of thyroid surgery you plan to undergo, you need to adjust your diet. While some people prefer to avoid changing their eating regimen, sticking to old habits after the surgery may decrease your quality of life.
Here are a few things to consider when adjusting your diet after thyroid surgery.
Diet Consideration Right After the Surgery
For several days after the procedure, you are likely to experience numbness and swelling in your throat. You could also have trouble swallowing. Until this discomfort disappears, you need to consider opting for soft, easy-to-swallow foods.
- Sauces, soups, and gravies
- Finely chopped meat or meatballs
- Mashed or finely chopped vegetables
- Food from the blender
- Nutritious drinks
Try to avoid hard food and uncooked vegetables. Don't consume hot drinks or food in order not to aggravate your sore throat.
Once your throat gets back to normal, you may consider adjusting your diet to promote quicker recovery*. Healthy nutritious food can help your body heal quicker while filling it with energy and preventing inflammation.
Add these foods to your diet during the recovery period:
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pomegranates) — a source of antioxidants and vitamin C.
- Fresh vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli) — a source of carbohydrates for energy and vitamins A and C.
- Fresh fruits — a source of vitamin A, C, carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidants.
- High-fiber foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, cereal) — you need sufficient fiber after the surgery to ease constipation related to anesthesia and painkillers.
- Lean protein foods (chicken, turkey, pork, seafood) — these foods are a good source of protein for healing purposes. If you don't eat meat, get lean protein from nuts, tofu, and beans.
- Vitamin B foods (meat, seafood, eggs) — after the surgery, you need a sufficient amount of vitamin B to maintain a proper blood cells count. Vegetarians may need to take vitamin B supplements or eat fortified foods.
- Water — try to drink a sufficient amount of water every day to avoid dehydration and constipation.
Avoid foods that may promote constipation. They include:
- Dairy products
- Dried or dehydrated foods
- Processed foods
- Red meat
Ideally, you should switch to this diet a few weeks before the surgery. This way you wouldn't need to make substantial changes after the procedure.
Thyroid Surgery and Metabolism
After you have thyroid surgery, your doctor will prescribe hormone replacement medication. However, it may take time to determine the correct dosage.
The thyroid hormone regulates metabolism. When the gland doesn't produce enough hormones (hypothyroidism), your metabolism begins to slow down. It means that the number of calories your body can burn is reduced. This usually promotes weight gain. Depending on your initial weight, you can gain between 5 and 10 pounds.
People who suffer from thyroid disease also face leptin resistance. Besides other functions, leptin is responsible for telling your brain when you've had enough to eat, thus stimulating thyroid hormone production to burn calories.
An excess of leptin could decrease your sensitivity to it. This could lead to your body telling your brain that it's hungry when it really isn't. This resistance could remain after the surgery, making weight loss harder.
Timely Diet Change
Once your thyroid (or part of it) is gone, your metabolism may change. This could result in weight gain. When hormone levels get back to normal, you can start losing weight. However, doing so may turn out to be time-consuming.
By adjusting your diet timely, you can avoid weight fluctuations while the doctor establishes the correct hormone dosage.
What to Eat After Thyroid Surgery
After the recovery period is over, you don't have many food limitations. However, you may consider sticking to a healthy diet in order to prevent weight gain. If you were overweight before the surgery, now is an excellent time to start losing weight.
Besides foods you eat right after the surgery, consider adding the following products to your diet:
- Eggs — a source of protein, vitamins A and E, B-complex proteins, zinc, calcium, iron, and folic acid.
- Healthy fats (nuts, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, seeds) — a source of vitamin E and energy for your body.
- Leafy greens — a source of vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Probiotics (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt) — a source of good bacteria for your gut. Add probiotics to your diet right after the surgery to promote gut health.
- Salmon — a source of omega-3, protein, vitamins, selenium, zinc, and iron.
- Organ meats – a source of vitamin A, zinc, iron, vitamin B, and copper.
Thyroid surgery doesn't necessarily result in weight gain. However, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can improve the quality of your life and prevent weight issues in the future.
Foods to Avoid After Thyroid Surgery
You should be careful with the following foods because they can interfere with your body's ability to absorb hormone replacement medication.
- Soy foods
- Highly concentrated fiber foods (fiber bars or fiber drinks)
- Food with very high iodine content (seaweed, tuna, shrimp)
- Highly processed foods
You should also avoid milk and calcium supplements. All supplement intake must be done under your doctor's control.
If you have to take antacids or acid reducers, consult your doctor to ensure the right dosage.
Staying Healthy After Thyroid Surgery
Thyroid surgery can help you solve a variety of health issues. The lifestyle you choose after the surgery doesn't just affect the recovery process, it dictates your life quality.
By switching to a healthy diet a few weeks before the surgery and following it after the procedure, you are giving your body a chance to heal quickly and gaining an opportunity to enjoy a happy and healthy life.
Renowned head and neck surgeons from C/V ENT Surgical Group have extensive experience with different types of thyroid surgery. If you'd like to learn more about life after thyroid surgery or schedule an appointment, please contact us at any convenient time.