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. I am now on day 8 post-op. Operation am June 6 2012. I am a 32 year old fairly fit athletic man. I play hockey and softball religiously and coach my sons soccer as well. I have two jobs Electrician by trade and a cribber on the side. So going into this surgery I was like I am tough and will be at ball the day of the surgery and off to work the next morning…..

    Was I wrong…..I went home and slept 1hr at a time and drank water whenever I could bear it for 2 full days. I had a popsicle or two throughout them days. On day three I had made up my mind that I was going to tuff it out and eat something so I sat down with a bowl of clam chowder and 2 crustless pieces of buttered bread. I ate half the soup and both pieces of bread in 1hr and 15mins….so painful!

    Then day 4 was probably the worst, spitting up blood and pieces of what I am assuming were scabs. But ate a popsicle or two and sat down at supper time and finally finished that clam chowder and another piece of bread in like 45 mins or so. Day five I could barely talk and excruciating pain never ate any thing all day. But discovered chewing gum and gatorade (lime seemed to be the best going down for me).

    Day 6 ate one bread stick while my family all ate tons of food and was so frustrated, almost depressed at my low point. I was to the point of believing that I would never eat again. So that evening everyone left and I had 2 Tylenol 3’s which were prescribed to me and waited a half hr. Then made a bowl of tomato soup and a couple of crustless buttered pieces of bread. I was successful in 45 mins. Yeah it was a turning point for me.

    Day 7 I felt at about 75% and was eating eggs and boiled hotdogs for super and have stopped all medication and starting to feel like the pain can be ovecome but it was a long battle this far. Now on day 8 and am doing good operating at around 80% and hope that I never have to go through anything like that again.

    I went into the surgery “blind” I did no research and thought that it was going to be a breeze. Boy was I wrong!! I have to say my wife was amazing and she did the research and took great care of me and motivated me through the tough times.

    I wish the best to all that have gone and are going to go through this surgery.

    God Bless

  2. I had mine removed on the 21st of may (now I’m on day 10 post the op). For me, day 5 and 6 were the worst,especially in the morning.

    I had porridge for the first 2 days after op, and start to eat soft missua (white noodle) for the next 2 – 3 days (I cut the noodle to tiny pieces). I even tried to make an overcook pasta with tomato based, but it was so painful to swallow and took my a good 40 mins to finish 1/4 portion of it. I barely could eat anything on day 5 and 6, which leads to another problem: gastric. My gastric was so bad I was vomiting for 6 times, despite my effort to drink Herbalife milk (its a nutritious milk supplement) before taking the pain killers. Finally my doctor gave me 2 gastric pills to take before any food, to help my stomach recover. On day 8 post the op I managed to eat Japanese Ramen ( I was back to office already), had it overcooked and had the noodles cut to tiny bits. Day 9 went even better, I had an overcooked noodle for lunch and made poached salmon for dinner. Still took me sometimes to chew, but managed to finish the fish!

    Day 10 now, felt so much better in the morning. Small tips, try to sleep with the back position, not the side position. I realized my tongue was pain so badly in the morning. After some readings, I found out that they have to clamp the tongue during the op procedure, which actually hurt the tongue physically. When I slept on my side for the first 5 days, I always wake up with severe pain on the right side of the mouth ( I have a right side position sleeping habit). I think my tongue was ‘pressed’ during the sleep. Once I change to sleep on my back, it was so much better in the morning.

    Hope this will help 🙂

  3. I had my tonsils out this morning (My 26th birthday!!). It made the day a little more fun, and what a better gift than the anticipated relief from angry tonsils! It is about 11:15pm and I felt great all day. I’m not sure if it was because I prepared myself for the worst… or because it’s only day 1. Regardless, I boiled some artichokes a couple days ago. I boiled the heck out of them so they were super soft. The leaves (& a very small piece of the heart as I didn’t want to push it) were wonderful on the first day. I dipped them in a mayo & curry sauce. A few leaves were enough to fill me up.

    The pain is starting to increase. I cooked some mac and cheese yesterday and I’m trying to muscle down a noodle at a time. The mac & cheese may as well be milk soup w/ a few floating noodles. Surprisingly the luke warm milk was so soothing down my throat. I tried some drinks (prune juice to avoid constipation) that stung a lot. So I highly recommend this if your drugs are working & your throat is feeling ok.

    So much for the anticipated weight loss… haha.

    I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes. Thankfully a thick fog as sit in and my windows are open… I’m hoping this helps my throat.

    Best of luck to everyone, & thank you for all of the wonderful advice!! Hopefully I’ll discover a new trick!

  4. I am on day 14 post surgery and finally about 3-4 days ago was able to start eating solid food. There wan’t a lot I could eat at first, except broth. Puddings, mashed potatoes, ice cream all burned my throat and tongue. Everyone forgets to tell you that not only does your throat feel like its swallowed glass but that you tongue swells, feels like blisters on it and on your gums. Not to mention the pain in your ears as well. When I did start eating in between bites I had to use the chloreseptic spray in between bites…yum…but at least I got to eat.

  5. i’m not too sure whether i’m defying medicine or just plain right mad but i’ve been eating solid foods since day 1/2. in fact at the top of my list has been chicken and potatoes. im now coming to the end of day 3 and i even managed to throw a happy meal down my throat just a few hours ago. some foods id definitely recommend are rice pudding and custard.

    one technique i am slightly relying on is trying to ‘numb’ or ‘freeze out’ my throat until the pain goes away and eat as much as i possibly can in that short time frame to ensure im staying well nourished.

    1. You make me jealous Connor! I’m day 6 post op and my tongue is so swollen that even sipping water is painful. I would happily venture into happy meal territory if only I could! I have been giving the ‘freezing the insides of my mouth’ a go and it does work, both before and after trying to swallow anything.
      What can I say, Tonsillectomy is great for weight loss!

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