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What foods can I eat after a thyroidectomy?


Updated April 17, 2014

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Question: What foods can I eat after a thyroidectomy?
I am having a total thyroidectomy to treat thyroid cancer. What kind of foods will I be able to eat after surgery? I would like to go shopping before the procedure to stock up on the essentials.
Answer: In most cases, no special diet is required after having a total thyroidectomy. Many people are able to resume their normal diet after surgery. For most, there is no damage to the trachea, so eating regular foods as tolerated may be recommended by your physician. Directly after surgery, you will be limited to fluids only, however. Once it has been determined that you can keep down fluids, you may be offered a light snack, such as crackers, before you are given a full meal.

It is common to have a sore throat following the procedure, but this is most likely due to the endotracheal tube that is used during surgery to keep your airway open and to help you breathe. You may experience mild soreness that may cause discomfort, especially while swallowing. In this case, you may want to choose soft foods like mashed potatoes, soups, smoothies, and yogurts at first. Cold foods like ice cream can also be soothing. The soreness from the tube should subside in a few days.

Please note that everyone recovers from surgery differently. Some people are able to eat a cheeseburger and fries after a thyroidectomy with no problem, while others may struggle with pasta. It really does vary from person to person, but barring any complications, you should be back to a normal diet relatively within 72 hours of surgery. Keep in mind that chewing more completely and drinking fluids often during meals will also help.

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