One of the best things you can do to improve your nutritional status when you are recovering from surgery is to focus on whole foods. That means to choose foods that are “whole” or unprocessed.
For example, an orange would be a whole food. Orange juice, though, would be a more processed version of that food. A baked potato is a whole food, while a french fry is more processed and less healthy, having been fried. The list goes on and on—chicken breast is better than chicken nuggets, onions are better than onion rings.
So, aim to obtain most of your nutrition from these whole foods, which is actually a healthy way to eat every day, not just the weeks following surgery. Processed foods tend to have higher amounts of fat, sugar, salt, and chemical additives, but far less fiber and vitamins than their whole food counterparts.1
One easy way to stick to more nutritious, less-processed foods is to focus on the outside aisles of the grocery store. Most grocery stores are set up with unprocessed foods on the outermost areas of the store in the produce, butcher/fish, dairy, and bread areas.
By doing most of your shopping in those areas, you will naturally choose healthier foods that are high in fiber—a vital nutrient to include in your diet after surgery.