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.
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.
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!