Eating and Drinking After Bowel Surgery

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What to eat after bowel surgery:
After you have had bowel surgery your doctor/surgeon will advise you when you can start eating and drinking again. It is usual to start with drinking fluids only, and then to gradually progress to eating food. The time taken for your bowel to recover after surgery, and for you to then start eating and drinking again will vary between different people and will also depend on which bowel surgery you have had. If you are on the Enhanced Recovery Programme, you will be drinking fluids and building up your diet relatively quickly, within 2-3 days of your surgery. Depending on which bowel surgery you have had, your doctor/surgeon will advise you how quickly you can build up your diet and progress through the stages listed below. When you are allowed to start eating again, it is recommended to start with small amounts of soft, low fibre, lower fat foods that are easy to digest. This is called a ‘Light Diet’.

Stages to building up your diet after bowel surgery:

Stage 1) Clear fluids: water, weak squash, weak black tea, clear soup (Bovril drink), jelly To start with you may be advised to take small ‘sips’ of clear fluids through the day

Stage 2) Free fluids: smooth fruit juice, milk and milky drinks such as hot chocolate and milkshakes (‘Meritene’ milkshakes and ‘Ensure Plus’ milkshakes are available on the ward)

Stage 3) Light Diet: small portions of low fibre, soft foods. See table below for suitable food options. The Light Diet will help your bowel recover after your surgery, and gradually get it used to digesting food again. The Light Diet is a temporary diet to follow after you have had bowel surgery. Generally you can aim to build up to your usual diet again within 2-6 weeks of your surgery. So once you are managing the Light Diet well, you can continue to reintroduce foods and build up to your usual diet again over the following weeks.

Stage 4) Normal diet: continue to build up your intake gradually and aim to return to your normal diet.

Top tips for building up your diet:
 Have small, frequent meals and snacks as your bowel adapts.
 Eating regularly through the day will help to encourage a regular bowel habit.
 Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have diarrhoea.
 Include protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese and milk in at least 2 meals per day;
this will help the healing process after surgery.
 Continue to reintroduce foods gradually over the weeks following your surgery.