The Post-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 recipes

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.

24 thoughts on “The Post-Tonsillectomy Diet

  1. 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.

  2. 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 ?

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. I got mine exactly 3 days ago and I really wanna eat bean burritos and eat popcorn soon how long do I gotta wait you think

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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)

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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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