Diet and eating after esophagectomy
Esophagectomy - diet; Post-esophagectomy diet
What to Expect at Home
You had surgery to remove part, or all, of your esophagus. This is the tube that moves food from the throat to the stomach. The remaining part of your esophagus was reconnected to your stomach.
You will probably have a feeding tube for 1 to 2 months after surgery. This will help you get enough calories so that you start to gain weight. You will also be on a special diet when you first get home.
If you have a feeding tube that goes directly into your intestine:
- You may only use it at night or for periods during the day. You can still go about your daytime activities.
- A nurse or dietitian will teach you how to prepare the liquid diet for the feeding tube and how much to use.
- Follow instructions on how to care for the tube. This includes flushing the tube with water before and after feedings and replacing the dressing around the tube. You will also be taught how to clean the skin around the tube.
You may have diarrhea when you are using a feeding tube, or even when you start eating regular foods again.
- If specific foods are causing your diarrhea, try to avoid these foods.
- If you have too many loose bowel movements, try psyllium powder (Metamucil) mixed with water or orange juice. You can either drink it or put it through your feeding tube. It will add bulk to your stool and make it more solid.
- Ask your doctor about medicines that may help with diarrhea. Never start these medicines without first talking to your doctor.
What you will be eating:
- You will be drinking liquids at first. Then you may eat soft foods for the first 4 to 8 weeks after surgery. A soft diet contains only foods that are mushy and do not need much chewing.
- When you are back to a normal diet, do not eat steak and other dense meats because they may be hard to swallow.
Drink fluids 30 minutes after you eat solid food. Take 30 to 60 minutes to finish a drink.
Sit in a chair when you eat or drink. DO NOT eat or drink when you are lying down. Stand or sit upright for 1 hour after eating or drinking because gravity helps food and liquid move downward.
Eat and drink small amounts:
- In the first 2 to 4 weeks, eat or drink no more than 1 cup at a time. It is ok to eat more than 3 times and even up to 6 times a day.
- Your stomach will stay smaller than it was before surgery. Eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 larger meals will be easier.
Maish M. Esophagus. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 43.
Reviewed By: Dale Mueller, MD, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, HeartCare Midwest; Chairman Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, OSF St. Francis Medical Center; and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois, Peoria, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.