Monday, August 20, 2012

Recovering From Colon Surgery - What to Eat


I recently underwent a partial transverse colon resection in order to remove a large polyp. Luckily the polyp had not advanced to the cancerous stage, but it still had to be removed surgically. When I first woke up I was placed on strict "tepid water only" until there was some evidence of bowel motility. The last thing you would want to do was stuff a bunch of food in a food processing factory that was not running--the food would rot!
Within 8 hours post close, I was advanced to the "clear liquid" diet in the hospital. I couldn't believe they wanted me (a person with high nutritional needs at that moment) to consume nutritionally bankrupt processed foodoids such as powdered broth in an envelope, a well-known brand of gelatinous dessert (full of sugar that PROMOTES cancer), and frozen sugar water on a stick--same thing. I got on my cell and requested that my husband bring over some cans of low sodium broth and not the el cheapo stuff. He brought me some I keep on hand to flavor soups, etc. It was way better than that evil stuff the hospital had. Being fed real clear liquids and managing to dodge most of the sugar I advanced rapidly to the "full liquids" and thought I'd try the "pureed cream of mushroom soup" the hospital offered.
Bad idea. It tasted like wallpaper paste with fake mushroom flavoring. Pasty foods thickened with refined white flour (another known cancer PROMOTING

  • Yams--one of the first solid foods babies eat. Mashed and thinned with grapefruit juice of all things.
  • Barley cooked with carrots and thinned with mushroom broth. Miso paste added for flavoring
  • Commercial smoothie drinks: Amazake (note amazake is a generic name for a fermented rice drink. It is not a brand name) or fruit smoothies sweetened with agave or natural rice sugar work. Ordinarily I cook from scratch but these are a great time saver when you're not up to it
  • Raw fresh vegetable and fruit juices my friends who have juicers brought for me. As I write I'm drinking a delicious carrot apple ginger concoction.
  • Papaya smoothies modified from the blog recipe. I made two variations: one similar to on the blog but the dicey ingredients (fibrous ginger and seeds) omitted and sweetened with prune juice, and another new combo of papaya and some of the organic beet cardamom flavored applesauce I put away last summer. Even though this is whole skin applesauce, the skin is completely pulverized and cooked and it did not cause any problems.
  • Avocado/low sodium vegetable juice cocktail smoothie. Don't try this right away. I think I attempted this too soon. I was craving some fat and that big dose of fat when I had been a week with virtually none was a bit of a shock to my system. Or it might have been the tomato.
  • Squash bisque. Recipe on the blog. Super delicious. Adjust the garlic to your preference.
  • Soft boiled eggs go down easy and give you protein.
  • Prune juice is very unsexy because it conjures up images of a constipated cranky old man with a walker. Some people really don't like it. I didn't want to take chances with constipation, so I chugged a shot glass of prune juice after each meal. Seemed to work.
  • What to avoid: All white pasty foods such as pasta, white bread, crackers, white sauce, heavily milk-based foods and of course refined sugar. These may go down easy but even if they don't set up in your colon, they cause your chemistry to be altered in a way that impedes healing. Your doctor may say these are OK, but in general doctors are complete ignoramuses when it comes to a humble "chick thing" like nutrition. Your doctor may tell you to avoid raw but he's only worried about chunks. I drank raw smoothies and juices just fine as long as they were pulverized. In general it is better to avoid the gas producers such as lentils and beans, and the very bulky stuff such as celery or leafy greens at first, and add them back in with caution as your healing progresses.
    Choose from fresh starchy and root vegetables, fresh whole grains, fresh fruits of the highest quality and you can't go wrong.
    You will do better if you eat six to eight small meals per day washed down with copious amounts of water. Yes you will pee a lot. This is good. It is your system sloughing off the residues of all the toxins you got in the hospital, including anasthesia, pain meds, and bowel stimulators. I also caution you to get in the habit of chewing your food thoroughly. Even 100% healthy bowels don't like chunks. God gave us teeth for a reason. And not only that--the more you chew the more saliva you get mixed with your food and that is a positive thing.
    Good luck and Godspeed in your recovery or the recovery of the loved one for whom you are preparing food.
    The focus of Colleen's food blog Dork Chow has always been healthy and sustainable eating practices. Colleen's recent hospitalization for colon surgery has prompted a new batch of specifically soft recovery diet recipes. The squash bisque is da bomb and the whole family will enjoy it.

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