After your jaw surgery, until you have fully healed, you will want to keep your diet to smooth, easily swallowed foods and drinks. It can be difficult for some patients to maintain a nutritious and filling diet under these circumstances, so our oral surgeons, Dr. Mo Banki and Dr. Frank Paletta, and our team have collected tips, tricks and recipes for your post-surgery diet. Feel free to scroll through the resources below and let us know if you have any questions. We are always happy to help!
Blenders, Baby Food and Liquid Diets
The easiest way to adapt your current eating habits and schedules to the needs of your post-surgery diet is to obtain a food processor or blender. In general, food will need to be blended with a liquid in order to thin the consistency of the meal. After adding the liquid, and then the food, blend on low until smooth.
You can also buy food pre-blended, such as commercial baby food. These can be seasoned with butter and heated to your preferred temperature, but in general, they are bit harder to customize to your liking.
Consistency of Food
The exact consistency of your diet after your operation will depend on the specific type of surgery that was performed and whether our oral surgeons recommended wiring your jaw in place to help the healing. Some patients will need to stick to liquid and thoroughly blended foods while other can add minced food earlier on. Our team will explain any patient-specific needs you may have before you leave our office, including the recommended texture of your diet during healing. If your jaws have been wired together, if may be important for you or your caretaker to strain your food in addition to blending it. We will ask many of our patients to avoid using straws after their surgery as well.
Tip: When you make a blended meal, prepare more than one serving and store the extra in portion-sized closed containers in the freezer. Then, for a convenient snack, simply defrost the portion by leaving it in the fridge or running it under hot water, heat and enjoy! Make sure the portions are labeled and dated.
- Fruit: A half cup of canned, chopped or cooked fruit can be blended with one to two tablespoons of fruit juice, ice cream or pudding. You can also use lemon or orange juice to keep the fruit from turning brown. Cherries and pineapples do not blend well.
- Vegetables: A half cup of canned, cooked or well-chopped vegetable can be blended with two to three tablespoons of the water you used to cook the vegetable with or a nice cream sauce. Cabbage and celery do not blend well.
- Meat: A half cup of cooked or cubed fish, meat or poultry (when it is not fried) can be blended with three to four tablespoons of vegetable juice, a cream soup or gravy. One serving of meat pureed will measure out as six to eight tablespoons.
Creating a Full Meal
Just because your diet has changed, does not mean you have to eat the same things for every meal. Here are some ideas for you to mix, match and combine for your daily meals. It may also be easier to split your meals up throughout the day, with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon meal.
- Fruit juice
- Instant breakfast
- Cottage cheese blended with fruit
- Scrambled eggs blended with milk and grated cheese
- Oatmeal, or hot cereal, prepared with milk and flavored with cream and sugar.
- Yogurt or pudding thinned with milk
- Cream of tomato or similar soups made with milk
- Pureed green beans made with butter or margarine
- Macaroni and cheese blended with milk or cheese sauce
- Blended chili con carne
- Roast beef blended with gravy
- Spaghetti blended with meat sauce
- Carrots blended with butter or margarine
- Pears blended with fruit juice or ice cream
- Mashed potatoes blended with milk, cream or butter
- Oatmeal, or hot cereal, served with milk, cream and sugar
- Cooked or canned legumes (baked beans, chick peas, etc.) that have been blended
Balancing Your Diet
Make sure you are preparing a variety of foods from each group every day, and choose low-fat food more often than not. Here are the recommended serving sizes for different foods.
- Milk: Three to four servings a day are recommended. One serving may be a cup of whole milk, milk-based drink or cream soup made with milk or ¾ cup of yogurt, ice cream, milk pudding or cottage cheese.
- Meat and Protein: Two to three servings a day are recommended. One serving may be two to three ounces of cooked and blended meat, one to two eggs, ½ cup of blended beans or two tablespoons of peanut butter.
- Grain: Five to 12 servings a day are recommended. One serving may be ½ cup of oatmeal, cooked and blended rice or noodles, or infant cereal mixed with juice.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Five to 10 servings a day are recommended. One serving may be ½ cup of blended fruit or vegetables.
Maintaining Your Weight
We want to make sure you are not losing weight while in recover, as this is a sign that you are not consuming enough calories. Try to keep track of your weight by weighing yourself once a week. If you need to up your calorie intake, trying eating more often, using whole milk or cream in recipes, adding milk powder to soups, or adding butter to your meals.
It is also important that you are consuming fiber-rich foods to prevent constipation during recovery. These include wheat germ or natural bran, high-fiber legumes and blended prunes or prune juice, amongst others. Do not try to increase fiber all at once, but gradually.
Nutritional supplements can also help you maintain a healthy weight if you find it difficult to consume the recommended milk or grain servings. Some examples of nutritional supplements include:
- Ensure and Ensure Plus
- NuBasics and NuBasics Plus
- Carnation Instant Breakfast
- Resource and Resource Plus
- Lactaid milk or soy milk if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk
Our team has prepared a handbook of recipes that are ideal for your post-surgery recovery. Check back soon so see some of those recipes included here. If you have any questions regarding care after surgery, feel free to call our office and speak with a member of our team.