7 Meal Plan Tips for Spine Surgery Recovery

Once you’re back home and able to eat a regular diet, you should know that after spine surgery is one time when more high-quality foods are better: more calories, more protein, and more vitamins and minerals will help your body recover as quickly as possible. But be sure those extra calories are nutritious ones. Learn more.

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Do not attempt to lose weight following surgery.

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The recovery time from spine surgery is not the time for cutting calories; it’s a time for increasing them. The days, weeks and months after surgery are not only a time for your spine to heal—it’s a time when your entire body goes through the recovery process. The progression is generally slow, but a high-quality diet can help ensure a smoother and speedier healing process.

It’s normal to feel nauseous during the first few days following surgery. Coming out of anesthesia and starting pain medications can kill your appetite, but that’s not a terrible thing because it gives your gastrointestinal tract time to get back on track. (The first good sign that your digestive system is starting to work properly, though a little embarrassing, is being able to pass gas.) If your recovery begins in the hospital, your medical team will gradually transition you from a clear liquid diet that is easy to absorb and doesn’t overstimulate the intestines, to a soft diet, and then to solid food.

Nutrient-rich shakes sold at most grocery stores can help you get the nutrition and calories you need if your appetite doesn’t return within a few days (see more about shakes, slide #5). By the time you leave the hospital, you should be ready to eat normal meals. As you prepare to go home, someone on your medical team will provide you with specific meal planning advice, but the general approach to a spinal post-op meal plan is explained in this slideshow.