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Eating to Heal

Understanding What You Eat


Go to food guide to see what meats, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy you need to eat.  It is important to know what you are eating in order to eat better. 

  • Necessary to hydrate the body
  • Examples: distilled, natural or spring water; also found in fruit juice, milk
  • Nutrient found in food that helps build and repair muscle
  • Examples: meat and fish, cheese, yogurt, beans, peas, lentils, nuts
  • Nutrient primarily produced by plants that is broken down by the body into sugar.  This sugar used as a source of energy by the body.  There are two types of carbohydrates:  simple and complex.
  • Simple carbs cause the blood sugar to spike and are digested more quickly by your body. Examples include candy, sugary drinks, syrup, table sugar, concentrated fruit juice, and products with added sugar like baked goods or some cereals.
  • Complex carbs raise blood sugar for longer and produce a more lasting elevation of energy because they are digested slowly by the by your body. Examples include brown rice, grains, flour, and potatoes.
  • Nutrient stored as a source of energy and a source of insulation in the body
  • Examples: Butter, oil and nuts
  • Nutrient that assists food movement through the gut
  • Examples:  cereals, bread, bran, beans, fruits, and vegetables

What to Eat Before Surgery

NOTE:  Please follow the providers dietary recommendations prior to surgery for best surgical outcomes


Foods That Promote Wound Healing2

To promote wound healing, it is important to increase your calories and nutrients.  Good sources of nutrients include proteins, fluids, and vitamins A, C, and zinc.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), your diet should include:

  • Proteins: 3-4 servings per day.  An average serving is 3-4 ounces which is roughly the size of the palm of your hand or the size and thickness of a deck of cards.
  • Carbohydrates: choose whole grain over refined grains.  Also avoid refined and added sugars as they promote bacteria growth.
  • Fluids: Increasing fluid intake during wound healing is important.  It is recommended that you drink half your body weight in ounces unless your doctor has given you different instructions.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Consume foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and zinc.  Sources of Vitamin A and C include brightly colored fruits and vegetables.  Sources of zinc are found mainly in animal foods.  Vitamin C Supplementation: 500mg per day in noncomplicated wounds to 2g per day in severe wounds (nutrition and wound healing)

Helpful Hints

Keep a food diary.  It is an excellent way to record how much you eat and drink.  For those who are required to record how much you drink, the below image is a helpful guide to record how. 

For those who have recently had weight loss surgery, or recent ostomy:

  • Drink fluids at least thirty minutes after meals
  • Sip beverages and avoid the use of a straw which increases swallowed air
  • Stop eating when feeling full
  • Avoid carbonated beverages and foods that produce flatulence, as this creates additional gas in pouch

Medications that Interfere with Wound Healing

  • Talk to your doctor concerning the medications you take.  These can be medications that are prescribed, over the counter medications, and herbs, vitamins and nutritional supplements




1 Bisch, S., Nelson, G., & Altman, A. (2019). Impact of Nutrition on Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

(ERAS) in Gynecologic Oncology. Nutrients11(5), 1088.


3 Barchitta, M., Maugeri, A., Favara, G., Magnano San Lio, R., Evola, G., Agodi, A., & Basile, G. (2019).

Nutrition and Wound Healing: An Overview Focusing on the Beneficial Effects of Curcumin. International

journal of molecular sciences20(5), 1119.


5 Beitz JM. Pharmacologic Impact (aka "Breaking Bad") of Medications on Wound Healing and Wound Development: A Literature-based Overview. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2017 Mar;63(3):18-35. PMID: 28355136.