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How Surgery for Colorectal Cancer Affects What You Can Eat

You may not be able to eat for the first few days. You may get some nutrients through an intravenous line, called an IV, that’s put into one of your veins. At first, you will begin a liquid diet. Later, you will be able to add soft foods and then normal foods. It may take your colon several months to adjust to the trauma of surgery. To rest your bowels during the healing time, you will need to eat a low-fiber diet. Be sure you discuss your diet with your health care provider. Your provider may refer you to a nutritionist or dietitian to help you plan your meals.

Low-fiber foods you may be able to eat after surgery

You may be allowed to eat foods like these.

  • Creamy peanut butter

  • Eggs that aren’t fried

  • Fruits without skin or seeds, such as applesauce, banana, melons, peaches, and plums

  • Ground and well-cooked meats

  • Pasta

  • Refined cereals like puffed rice and corn flakes

  • Some fat, such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and salad dressing

  • Sweet or white potatoes without skins

  • White bread

  • White rice

Foods your health care provider may tell you not to eat after surgery

You may need to avoid foods like these.

  • Beans

  • Broccoli

  • Brown and wild rice

  • Chocolate

  • Coconut

  • Corn

  • Corn bread and corn muffins

  • All raw or dried fruits, including raisins and seeds

  • Fried foods

  • Juice with pulp

  • Nuts, including crunchy peanut butter

  • Peas

  • Pickles and olives

  • Popcorn

  • Potato chips

  • Tough, fibrous meats and processed meats

  • Whole grains