Dieting After Surgery

This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Bronx 4 years, 10 months ago.

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  • It’s my first day back on the diet after two operations for breast cancer (though the cells weere pre-cancerous). Despite having to stop the diet for a few weeks, I found that I hadn’t put any weight back on. Delighted to be back on track so quickly.
    The doctors were very encouraging about going back on the diet for the weeks between recovery and the start of radiotherapy.
    So please do tell your doctors and nurses if you are on the diet and if you are facing any form of treatment. It encourages them to understand the 5:2 diet better and helps them realise that it is a good method to promote to their patients.

    Bless you Heather thanks for such useful advice

    A further update:-

    I did manage to go back on the 5:2 diet after surgery until I started radiotherapy. It certainly kept my weight stable and I also managed a bit of exercise too.
    Once I started five weeks radiotherapy I stopped the diet. I haven’t managed a lot of exercise as I’m getting more and more tired. The weekdays are taken up with travelling and treatment too. I thought I’d put on weight but it has, again, stayed stable up until the end of the third week of treatment.
    I’ve put on a couple of pounds so I’m just trying to watch the sort of things I’m eating and not trying to slip back into old ‘comfort’ eating habits.
    I haven’t got the loss of appetite but that’s because it’s my husband who does the shopping and cooking in our house. If it was up to me at this point I think I would be doing the minimum.
    Oh, well, only ten more treatment sessions to go and will see how I am at the end of it all.

    Hi HeatherJ

    Hope your treatment is going well. Not sure what side effect you are experiencing from the radiotherapy, but I thought I’d share something that I’ve found helpful.

    There is some research that has shown a fasting program can help with treatment that effects your immune system, such as chemotherapy.
    I have treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that suppresses my immune system in a similar way to chemotherapy. I read some research that I think was conducted in Oxford, using various combinations of fasting periods and calorie restriction – it showed positive results in reducing the side effect of chemo. I stated using an eating window (which means I fast from 9pm to 12 noon every day) and I now also do a 500 calorie FD the day before treatment. I no longer get nausea or vomiting, still sometimes get a mild headache and can be a bit more fatigued, but it’s a vast improvement on the previous side effects which used to keep me confined to bed for at least 24 hours.

    So if you are getting side effects from the radiotherapy it may be worth considering a FD the day before radiotherapy, to see whether there is any difference in side effects for you.

    Hope you get through this time and stay healthy.

    Thanks, LJoyce, that’s very helpful advice.

    I’m not affected by nausea/vomiting just now but that might be a possibility in my last week, especially as I have a round trip of three hours plus to get to the hospital for a ten minute session!

    Will post here if I do get any side effects and if adapting the diet helps with those. The only noticeable thing just now is a reddening of my skin over the area that’s being treated – and the tiredness, of course.

    Hi Heather, Jaybird and Joyce,

    I broke my leg on Monday and told the nurse at the hospital I was doing fasting. She said I should consider not fasting during recovery because I’d need the nourishment to help the bone heal. Being the stubborn type, I won’t be completely following her advice but will modify my fasts a little. I’ve been doing three 0 calorie days a week for about the past 6 months and will scale that back a bit until I talk to the surgeon about it in a couple weeks. To tell the truth I haven’t had much of an appetite since the incident and haven’t really eaten much of anything even on my feed days, but today (my first day back home) I ate 1 decent meal so I think my appetite is slowly coming back.

    I just don’t want to stop fasting completely, then have trouble getting started again when I’m fully healed. I’d rather keep fasting and let the bone heal more slowly. Does that make sense?

    Heather, I wish you great success with your full recovery. Your post is an inspiration for me and I’m sure others.


    Hi Bronx
    Hope the leg heals well.

    I had a full knee replacement in 2015 and the surgeon told me that my body would require more than my usual calories while I was healing – I lost a lot of weight before surgery and he knew I was still dieting. His advice was true for me. I actually stuck roughly to my previous TDEE every day in the weeks after surgery and lost 3kg (6 1/2 pounds) in the first month after surgery. With a new knee replacement I was doing no aerobic exercise, just knee flexibility routines. So I wasn’t burning the extra calories with exercise, just healing.

    Thanks Joyce,

    It’s encouraging to know that if I’m careful about what I eat on what would be a fast day and stick to TDEE on non-fast days that I may not gain a ton while healing.


    I noticed that this issue is also addressed under FAQ on this website – you might want to read it. MM says that you need extra protein – presumably to help with the extra cell repair that your body needs to accomplish.

    Thanks again, Joyce. I just read through the FAQ for the first time, even though I’ve been coming here for over a year! Interesting stuff there and well worth reading.


    Will check out the FAQ section and have a read too.

    I would agree with the general advice that you need to eat “well” while recovering from either injury and/or surgery.

    Where you’ve had a bone break – it might also depend on the cause – was it just trauma or were there other underlying causes e.g. osteoporosis?

    If your body is repairing bone then it will be taking the calcium from somewhere in the body so don’t be afraid of eating those things that contain a good proportion of calcium as that will help the healing process.

    Thanks to all supporting one another through difficult times of surgery and recovery!

    Hi Heather,

    The break was the result of a motorcycle crash.

    For years I’ve been gargling with (then swallowing) liquid calcium after brushing my teeth. Many years ago I read an article in the dentist’s office that said a control group of college students in England gargled with liquid calcium every day and not only did the gargling prevent new cavities, it got rid of existing cavities too.

    I have a rod and screws holding the bone together while it heals and have been told I can put full weight on it. I’m using a walker for now because the pain while walking is a little too much without the walker. I don’t like to take drugs of any kind (except caffeine!) so I’ve just been dealing with the pain. Hopefully I can switch to using a cane this week and then get back to work. It gets boring sitting at home all day not being able to do much. A preview of my retirement years, I guess.

    Thanks again for starting this thread. It has been therapeutic writing my thoughts about this whole ordeal.


    I wish you, Bronx, a speedy recovery.

    The shock of the accident and now the patience required for the recovery always adds some stress.

    I’d not heard about the therapeutic use of calcium gargle for teeth. Remember that your body needs more than a gargle (please don’t swallow!) for any major bone repair! We get most of that repair material from our food. Bones are also helped by the sun + Vitamin D as well. Not much chance of a lot of sunshine in the north where I live! Your body will get rid of the excess bone quite naturally – it builds up then cuts back as required – the healing process the body uses is fascinating.
    Any excess calcium is then got rid of by the kidneys. Be kind to them and don’t have an excess intake (so that’s why don’t swallow the gargle) as that’s the place it can get stuck! So drink plenty of fluids, water especially.

    Ah, the boredom factor! That’s my danger point as that’s when I can search out those comfort foods I love and that pile the pounds on! I’m managing a bit of exercise through the week but not as much as normal. Tiredness is now kicking in big style. It helps to have a support network and I hope this discussion has been a part of that support for others. Otherwise I can only suggest you look for an interesting hobby you might be able to explore while you are more or less confined to quarters. My sister-in-law took up upholstery (don’t ask) while she underwent chemo and radiotherapy. I have knitting that I can pick up or put down depending on energy levels. I’ve not heard what the men have managed while undergoing treatment.

    Any others found something that helped?

    Yes, I have heard that excess calcium can cause kidney stones so it’s something I’m mindful of. So far no problem but one the size of Mount Everest is probably building up inside me.

    I play guitar (badly) but so far haven’t had much desire to pick one up; I did for just a few minutes Saturday but that’s it. Mostly I’ve been marathon watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show and playing various card games on the computer. I know I’ll later regret not being more productive with this idle time but I’m not in the right mindset yet.

    I too would love to read others’ thoughts on this subject. Hope we get some more responses.


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