How to meal prep for surgery

I’ve recently undergone laser eye surgery, and while this is a very minor procedure with minimal down time, food was not so easy to manage.  I was out of action for roughly two weeks, with no way of getting to the shops and limited capacity to cook for myself.  Fortunately, my surgery was planned, so I had time ahead of the procedure stock my freezer and pantry with items I could throw together for a decent meal.

As a dietitian who has recently been out of action due to medical stuff, there are my top tips for those about to undergo surgery:

1. Make frozen veges your friends. Heinz do individual steamer bags in lots of varieties, but so do lots of other brands. These can be added to pre-cooked proteins like chicken or tofu for a quick and easy meal.

2. If you’re like me and your peepers are out of action, or you’ve had upper limb surgery and your mobility is reduced, purchase tuna in a foil sachet instead of a can for your own safety.

3. Use microwave rice tubs for a quick and easy carb source that isn’t toast (one can only eat so much toast). Supermarket brands are just as good as the big names, come in a range of flavours and are a fraction of the price!

4. If you can safely use cooking appliances, the humble toasted sandwich is a good option, especially if you can pair it with a can/foil pouch of vegetable soup.

5. Cook ahead a couple of big batches of soups and stews, and freeze in individual portions.  Individual portions are key here, so you aren’t stuck with five servings of the same soup to be consumed within a couple of days.

6. You won’t be moving around much, and pain medication can constipate you, so make fibre your friend (unless you’ve had gut surgery and/or have been instructed to eat low residue).  Add legumes to everything, whether it’s lentils in your soups and stews, baked beans on toast or even a can of four bean mix with your tuna or chicken and veg. For my low FODMAPPers, a small can of chickpeas or brown lentils, rinsed and drained, is a good, low FODMAP legume option.

7. Drink plenty of fluid to help your body handle the fibre and keep your bowels and kidneys in tip top shape.  If plain tap water is not appealing, tea and coffee are also good options.  If you tolerate caffeine then regular tea and coffee are fine, and no, they will not dehydrate you.  But keep your sleep in mind, and don’t consume close to bed time if you know it will affect you.

Ashleigh Jones

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