Tonsillectomy Diet

Eating Foods After Tonsils Removed





The tonsillectomy diet can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the nutrition derived from solid foods is essential for out overall health and recovery from tonsillectomy surgery. The very act of swallowing also helps the throat recover. On the other hand, pushing foods past the raw and tender area of the tonsil beds after they’ve been cut and in many cases cauterized, can cause excruciating pain and, even bleeding. We need to go slow.

tonsillectomy diet

Eating After Tonsils Removed

Liquids: The best friend of any tonsillectomy diet

Liquids. Let’s start here. Since you’ll be drinking at least 8 ounces per hour during  tonsillectomy recovery. Put some thought into what you want.   Sport drinks are good. They provide electrolytes and needed calories. Since most of the calories are from sugar, you’ll want to try some other drinks too. Avoid anything acidic, caffeinated, dairy, or thick for the first week. I was amazed by how many things I drank went down like battery acid or left a troublesome film on my throat. (tonsil bed) Water is always good, but it’s hard to stay interested in it. I also enjoyed chicken and beef broths. Don’t heat them beyond, “fairly warm.” Hot has an inflammatory effect on tonsil area tissue.




how to make peanut butter smoothies

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Recipe

Gelatin was the first thing I was given to begin eating after tonsillectomy and I thought I’d gone to heaven. It tasted wonderful and, for some reason, I found it easier to swallow than water. It’s cool, soothing, and counts as hydration. Hands down, Jell-O, Jelly, or gelatin is my top pick for foods for a tonsillectomy recovery. For the first five days I didn’t venture too far beyond the liquids and gelatin. It’s contrary to what your mother might advise but, like sleep, a normally healthy endeavor can result in an hour of searing pain. I tried mashed potatoes on day two and had tears in my eyes.  For about a day after that, I stopped eating .  I don’t recommend this.  Maintaining a good diet is important for several reasons.  Nutrition, activation of muscles in the affected area, and feeling of well being are all benefits of a smart plan. Also keep in mind that most prescription pain killers can cause nausea, especially on an empty stomach.  It’s important to get some kind of food down before taking pain medicine, even if it’s just a liquid food like Ensure.
Try to add as many calories to your day as you can. As your throat allows, try some foods like oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, (NOT al dente. cook it!), ramen noodles, mashed potatoes, gravy, or cous cous. Oatmeal was, without question, my breakthrough food as I began eating after tonsillectomy. I’m still eating it almost daily, probably because of the good feeling that  it gave me in my second week. If you have a favorite post-tonsillectomy recipe, please share it in the comments section below.

When I was recovering, I used to daydream about eating steak.  It seemed so unattainable.  I couldn’t even handle mashed potatoes.  When could I ever enjoy a nice juicy Steak??  I told myself, once I got through this, I would reward myself with a delicious slab of beef.  To this day, I love my steak. I’ve put together a collection of items that I think would be helpful, if not essential, to making tonsillectomy recovery a little more pleasant, including items for your tonsillectomy diet. Check out the Tonsillectomy General Store.

In Australia and the UK, Doctors recommend a different tonsillectomy diet…

Katy’s Tonsillectomy Story:

I’m a 39 year old woman in the UK who’s had chronic tonsillitis for about 4 years – basically I had one big bout which kind of broke my tonsils. They’ve been enlarged and prone to infection ever since. I’ve also snored for a few years and occasionally felt as if my airways were obstructed. This was initially diagnosed as probably being reflux.

I finally managed to get a GP to refer me to a specialist at the end of last year. I didn’t have reflux. What I did have was larger than usual tonsils, a couple of fluid retention cysts that were badly positioned, and a nodule on my vocal cords (very common). I had my tonsils out 9 days ago.

The operation was fine – I went in as a day patient, was given a little morphine when I woke up (my throat was quite sore and that’s what they gave me when I said so but it wasn’t the sort of terrible pain that you would usually associate with morphine). They gave me an omelette to eat and sent me home with paracetamol, ibuprofen and dihydrocodeine to take if I needed it. All of these medicines can be taken together.

Tonsillectomy Diet – UK Win?

In the UK we’re advised not to change our diets post tonsillectomy op – the more textured foods you can eat (crackers, cereal, crisps, toast) the better as it promotes healing and also helps with pain. We’re advised not to try things like ice cream or other creamy/milky foods as it irritates the throat. I ate toast and cereal from the start and I was never in what I would call unmanageable pain.

During Days 1-5 the pain was a kind of scratchy, hot pain which improved when I ate textured food – I guess that was because of scars and scabs forming, the textured food desensitized it. I didn’t have any day where I had nothing but liquids or soft foods, although I didn’t eat as much as I usually do. I had to leave tea and coffee to get lukewarm before I could drink it and I couldn’t eat anything with spices or herbs or (argh) citrus in it as they made my throat feel burny. The thing that made my throat feel best was water. Sitting in the bath was lovely as well as the steam moistens the throat.

Days 6-8: the pain changed and was a bit worse, but it was still bearable. It felt less scratchy and more as if my throat was bruised. My ears and jaw were very sore. Swallowing hurt on a muscular level without painkillers. I’d managed without the codeine for days 1-5 but I took it before I went to bed on days 6 and 7, mainly because of the ear pain. I didn’t take it on day 8 as by the evening I was feeling a lot better.

Day 9: everything is much better. I feel much more normal. I haven’t taken a painkiller yet today and I don’t think I’ll need the codeine. The scabs have disappeared from all but the bottom of the tonsil beds so my mouth is no longer yellowy-grey. I can brush my teeth without discomfort. My uvula is still swollen but not to the point where it’s lying on the back of my tongue (ugh).

Everyone’s different and I know that some people really struggle with the recovery. It looks as if some people were advised or decided to stick with liquids and soft foods for the first few days – obviously everyone has to follow their doctor’s advice, but I would really recommend forcing down some toast or similar at least once a day if your doctor says that’s ok. It’s not very painful if you chew it properly before swallowing and it definitely eased the pain for me. I wasn’t well enough to do a full day’s work or anything but I have been able to walk the dog every day, for example, and we’ve had friends to stay who I’ve been able to cook for.

For me the most discomfort was just that everything was swollen. It was sometimes quite hard to swallow properly and I had to go to the sink and spit a couple of times, which I’ve never had to do (and hate doing). Sneezing wasn’t much fun and I found that my nose ran a bit more. I hated not being able to speak (but that was more the vocal cord thing than anything else).

The operation is 100% worth it. My throat feels so much better and apparently I’ve not snored since the operation – I had assumed it would be worse because all the tissues were so swollen but my husband assures me I haven’t snored.

Can I just add that I’ve added my story to give people hope that the recovery will be manageable, but it’s not intended to make anyone who’s struggling feel like they’re not trying hard enough or doing it wrong – everyone is different and some people will be hit harder than others.

Best of luck to everyone who undergoes this procedure!

28 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Diet

  1. I am 33 years old and had my tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy yesterday. After the operation I felt fine, they put a packet of chips, coke, jelly and ice cream infront of me and I wasn’t allowed to leave without finishing it. I could talk, I could swallow, everything was fine. As the day passed it became more painfull, the pain was bad at night, I had 2 stillpains and 2 hours later I had a voltaren supposotory. I slept propped up and woke myself with my alarm every 6hours to take pain meds. Today I woke up and I felt better than I thought I would. Had jelly for breakfast which is really a life saver and had oatmeal for lunch… it is really soothing. What saves me is ice cold water… I am drinking water non stop. Will keep you updated!!

  2. I’m 24 and day 3 post op also from the uk and my doctor said the same try to eat a solid diet as a soft liquid one only prolongs the scabs being on and doesn’t clear the mucus or phlegm that starts to build up. Toast has been my best friend it takes a good while to get through but I feel loads better after eating it and I’ve also been using an ice pack on my neck as well as difflam which is a mouthwash you gargle which numbs your throat this is a godsend just before you take your painkillers!!

  3. Ok, I’m post tonsillectomy day 9 or 10, I’m bad at math. Anyway, here’s some advice on food to eat during the different stages of a tonsillectomy. During the scab formation stage, usually days 1-3, I highly recommend freeze tube ice pops. Get the mott’s fruit juice version, it’s only frozen juice and thus it burns less going down than artificially colored and flavored ones. I also reccomend flan (yes, they do come prepackaged, and they are a life saver!). Rice pudding also goes down very nicely during this stage. Chicken broth (if you can handle the salt) is also great. Soft breads like challah with some pâté is great and packs a lot of protein. Try some ice cream too. The second stage is when the phlegm hits, around days 4-7. This (at least for me) was the worst stage. I couldn’t sleep because of the phlegm for a solid 4 days. During this stage, avoid dairy and sweet things, which help induce the phlegm. Instead, stick to broths. I found wonton soup to be a life saver. The wontons were super soft, softer than any other noodle, and felt like water going down. It was salty, so I flushed it down with a lot of water. You can also soak bread in the broth, and eat that. I also tried applesauce, which wasn’t too bad for the phlegm but burned a tad when it went down. Buttered noodles with a little parsley tasted fantastic and were slippery. Also Mac and cheese was wonderful, and there’s barely any dairy in it at all. The days when the scabs begin to fall off, days 7-whenever, is when it is recommended to try more solid foods. Definitely try some wonton soup. Finely ground meat is also very good for getting scabs to fall off. I tried some rice and meat stuffing from a stuffed pepper and it tastes so so so good. Cold things start to feel absolutely amazing, so have some ice cream and freeze pops. Also, frozen yogurt tubes feel great. Avoid sharp things like crusts. They could cause bleeding and take scabs off to quickly. Once all your scabs fall off, feel free to venture into harder foods once again, but be careful for about a week after they’re all off. Sometimes you can’t see them if they’re far down your throat. Good luck everyone!

  4. I’m 29 and I had a tonsillectomy 6 days ago. The single worst food for me has been bananas and ice cream, which is the opposite of what everyone advises! Ice cream doesn’t help at all and bananas sting like hell from the moment they insert the throat (mine at least). I don’t know why this happens but some people had the same issue. I found pineapple juice to be relieving.

  5. I had mine removed Feb 23rd , the pain was terrible and stoping me to eat doctors told me k had to eat hard food no choice about it so I was , day 6 I had a really bad bleed and was rushed to hospital they told me I had an infection , I was terrified to eat afterward but doctors wouldn’t let ne home unless I ate hard food , did anyone else doctors say only hard/crunchy food ? Also have a terrible taste when I eat mostly anything does anyone have this problem either ?

  6. I’m from the UK, and had mine out 5 days ago. Here the advice is that you should absolutely maintain a solid food diet, and that soft and watery foods don’t help to clear the area at all, which is supposed to prolong the healing. In fact, I couldn’t leave hospital without first having eaten a packet of crisps (that’s chips to you guys). I have been eating exactly as I would have been since the op (even though my appetite hasn’t always been great) and I have to say that it’s really not been too bad. I find swallowing in the first hour or so in the morning is worse than eating foods throughout the day, and it does feel as though the solid food is toughening the area up. Anyway, thanks for the site, there really wasn’t much information available regarding the recovery so this has been a very useful resource. I’ve also been drinking about a pint of water per hour or so after reading about staying hydrated which I believe has also helped.

  7. I had my tonsils out yesterday and felt not too bad but today,however,i feel horrendous..i can hardly open my mouth…hospital told me to eat normal foods but reading up on here it tells me different and im confused..i guess its trial and error with what i can cope with…do i eat icecream or not?as it increases phlegm?hospital offered me sandwich and orange juice…but on here says avoid citric juice!!any other suggestions?

  8. I am about 24 out and so far almond milk blended with half a banana has been the best. Also organic blended fruit and vegetable popsicles with beet and carrot. Room temp vegetable broth tasted awful but went down well. A bit of organic pumpkin ice cream mixed with maca powder was OK, but left too much phlegm. Will stick to the almond milk for now.

  9. i only got my tonsils out 5 days ago and I feel capable of eating a lot of foods.

    I’m 19 years old, and am managing pasta well, steamed veges and all
    other synonymous foods.

    I’m worried about what to expect from the removal of the scabbing stage- should I start hitting toast and things to make it all easier?

    1. Hi Caroline- Boy, great question! !st off, I’m glad to hear that things are going well. There are sort of two camps on the rough foods question. Australian and UK doctors tend to recommend rough foods throughout recovery. In the U.S., softer foods are generally the recommendation. I’ve researched this quite a bit and, though it’s not how I did it, I tend to side with our friends across the pond. From all the accounts I’ve read, and discussions I’ve had with ENT’s, I’ve come to believe that, short of sharp edged foods, it’s generally best to eat more textured foods to gently clear the throat and keep the muscles engaged. I am not a doctor, and I don’t want to give medical advice. These are simply my thoughts as a patient who has paid close attention to tonsillectomy recoveries. Best of luck to you!

  10. At first, jello, ice cream and pudding were the best. I started to eat oatmeal and canned soups and grapes after 3 days. By day 6, the scars have started to come off, and the throat is very sensitive again. Ice cream is actually too cold right now. I poached eggs which was very easy to do and that was delicious and soothing for breakfast (I was looking for protein with a jello-like texture) For lunch I boiled chicken broth with some linguine noodles and that was very soothing. I tried a banana smoothie but bananas have acid that really burned, so I would stay away from them. I thought Gatorade might be good but that also burned.

  11. I got my tonsils out five days ago, and the day of the surgery was utter hell. Once I’d arrived home, I promptly threw up the pain medicine I had to take– and that hurt more than anything. An hour or so later I tried again, and couldn’t keep it down. I ended up crushing up the pain tablets and swallowing it down with a smoothie from McDonald’s, which worked quite well for a few days. Up until Friday, I woke up every few hours with agonizing pain, and ended up having to sleep propped up on the couch. This will sound very odd, but WARM soups feel much better to me than a cold drink! Once I’d had a cup or so of soup, I could actually talk. On Saturday, I started eating macaroni and cheese, which was a blessing, as I could have some actual food in my stomach. Around that time, I could also start swallowing the pills instead of crushing them up, but I’m still talking in a whisper. I didn’t feel much pain at all today, besides the occasional discomfort from coughing. So far, recovery has gone much better than I expected!

  12. Hi all, yes it’s true here in the UK they recommend eating solid normal diet as soon as possible. They will not let you out of hospital until you are eating ‘normal’ foods.

    My daughter had her tonsillectomy (laser) 2 days ago. 4 hours after the operation she ate some pasta with cheese, some cheesy biscuits and some of a brioche roll. Then in the morning ate bacon, eggs, tomatoes, and toast, followed by cereal (special K) and some fruit salad. Yesterday she ate (small amounts) constantly all day. She is not eating full meals or portions but having small bites that need to be thoroughly chewed. Last might she had spaghetti with ragu and garlic bread and to be honest ate probably 1/4 of a portion of the pasta but at 2 pieces of garlic ciabatta. So her diet is not been completely back to normal but much different to the days of jelly (jello) and ice cream.
    I have been instructed to use ibruprofen and paracetamol and to time meals so that she is eating within 1/2 hr of the dose. The idea is the ‘grey slough’ a the back of the throat is what causes the discomfort so the quicker it is removed the quicker the discomfort goes away.

    I am told the pain will worsen from today so will see how it goes (she has just woken asking for American pancakes)

  13. My name is katie and ive gotten them out 4 days ago HONESTLY im 14 and its not that bad besides the food part, ive tried ice cream but that cuase way way to much mucus, and yogart to. ive had ALOT of water but now im trying ramen noodles! Do you think ill recover in the next 2 week becuase i have a camp to attend… thanks

  14. I have surgery scheduled in the next 10 days as a result of having 2 peritonsillar abscess in past 3 years (they say chances are very high it will recur). Your website has been invaluable in prepping myself for the recovery. I have just discovered in the UK and Australia that they encourage eating rough foods after the surgery in fact they won’t even let you leave the hospital until you finish eating a sandwich. My understanding is that by doing so it prevents hard scabs from forming and encourages healing from the inside out and the healing process is typically faster overseas than here in the US. I’m curious to know if anyone was able to confirm this if they tried it.

    1. Hi John, and welcome! Yes, it’s true that the U.S. is different in dietary recommendations for tonsillectomy recovery. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the UK and Australia may be onto something. Whichever route you take, I’d still avoid sharp or jagged foods. Best of luck to you.

    2. Hi John,
      I am curious how your surgery turned out? Did you eat the solid foods or stick to liquids/jello and very soft foods? My daughter is taking hers out in one day. Any suggestions would be helpful and recommendations since you just went through it.
      thanks,
      Antoinette

  15. Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, bean burritos and pasta are the foods I have eaten the most in the past 1 days. I have also had plenty of yogurt and freeze pops. Luke warm soup is also something i have had too. I found it was better to deal with pain and force soft foods down that have an empty stomach or a stomach full of only yogurt/liquid.

    1. I had mine out 4 days ago. I’ve tried pudding, yogurt, ice cream, water ice, gummy bears, and mac and cheese. Everything except the gummy bears and water ice stuck in my throat and either left a film or some noodle residue on the scabs. I want to eat real food so badly, but I just can’t manage anything other than these two things without major pain or side effects. The gummy bears are great for helping to reduce the ear pain and provide a little bit of nourishment, which is why i chose them. The water ice is soothing and cold on my throat without creating thick mucous the way ice cream does, and doesn’t have sharp edges the way that crushed ice does. I’m 24 years old.

    2. Yes I agree..I’m in the US and just had my surgery yesterday.. I am in the most pain while trying to sleep as I guest that is when the nasty thick mucus starts to build up which makes me continuously have the urge to swallow!! I am already eating my soft foods my first meal around 7 in the evening post surgery yesterday was cream of wheat.. This morning had boils eggs and a little mashed potato..right now I am having vegetable soup (Campbell’s, I also diluted with more water due to the sodium factor) my pain is mild I gargle wlevery once in a while to remove so much of the mucus but my biggest complaints are these sore muscles from the anesthesia!! This is the worst its taking over my surgery pain!!

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