Eating After Tonsillectomy

Eating After Tonsillectomy

Eating after tonsillectomy 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 as we resume eating after tonsillectomy surgery.

Eating After Tonsillectomy
What to Eat After Tonsillectomy

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 foodsfor eating after tonsillectomy surgery.

For the first five days I wouldn’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.  Eating after tonsillectomy is important for several reasons. Nutrition, activation of muscles in the affected area, and feeling of well being are all benefits of smart eating after tonsillectomy.

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.

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.

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 bloody Mary steak marinade recipe.  Try it before surgery, or after you’ve recovered.  Salud!

Tonsillectomy Recovery
Tonsillectomy Recovery

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. Check out tGeneral Store.


  1. It’s day 58 post tonsillectomy for me. I was diagnosed on August 21, 2018 with squamous cell cancer which had metastasized to the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. The oropharyngeal cancer that the doctors determined was the likely cause typically develops in the base of the tongue or the tonsils. They also determined that it was HPV positive (Human Papilova Virus) which is a more treatable form of cancer. Step one of the treatment was the tonsillectomy and a few very aggressive biopsies of the tongue. Pathology found no cancer in either. I’ve read in about 3% of the cases there can be an unknown primary tumor. I needed to heal from the surgery before starting step two of treatment which includes 35 doses of radiation. Today I completed dose 16. Pain from the tonsillectomy was brutal for me for no less than 2 weeks after surgery, this included my first 10 out of 10 on the pain scale on days 7,8 and 9. Narcotics barely touched it and needed to be taken every 4 hours not the 6 hrs prescribed. I have suffered I huge taste sensitivity change accompanied by a heightened awareness of smells. Put mildly everything tastes and smells like crap. It’s a wonder I haven’t starved already but I’m motivated to eat by my fear of adding constipation to my repertoire. Radiation is brutal but sitting down to a plate of food is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. Radiation is expected to take a toll on my sense of taste also but they say it should come back to a new “normal “. I’m fighting every day for my life. My throat is raw as hamburger from the radiation and I have four weeks to go. They say the two weeks past the last treatment are the worst.
    I know this may sound like someone with a terrible story but honestly the surgeon never warned me of any of these possible side effects, I would have gone ahead anyway but would have enjoyed my last real meal so much more. If my sense of taste doesn’t improve I will have much fewer days to live. I can’t see being able to eat indefinitely with no light at the end of the tunnel.

  2. Our ENT enacted no restrictions on diet after a tonsillectomy. If you want a cheeseburger, have a cheeseburger. His only warning was that acidic foods could be uncomfortable.

    In fact, he literally said forget everything you read on the Internet [regarding tonsillectomies]. He’s no sham either, he’s highly and often recommended by former patients and has over 20 years experience performing 200 or so tonsillectomies a year.

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