Your intestinal tract can be nearly 25 feet long, meaning your food has to travel quite a long way before waste products are eliminated. One of the final stops is your colon, the part of your large intestine before your rectum. If you have a disorder such as colon cancer or diverticulitis that affects your colon, your physician may recommend a colon resection or removal of a portion of your colon. This procedure can have some implications for your diet post-surgery.
Colon resection surgery typically involves placing you under general anesthesia, which means you will not be awake during the procedure. The anesthesia can have temporarily paralyzing effects on your digestive system, slowing your digestive processes. Your nurse may not provide anything to eat immediately after surgery until your bowel sounds return. These sounds indicate your digestive system is up and running. When they return, you will likely receive a clear liquid diet, which includes broth, jello, juice and ice pops.
If you are able to tolerate clear liquids with few side effects, your doctor will likely recommend a soft diet. This diet type has more calories than a full liquid diet yet will not put strain on your colon as it continues to heal post-surgery. Examples of soft foods include cooked fruits, such as bananas, and soft, cooked vegetables. Eggs, low-fat dairy products, potatoes, white bread, white rice, pasta, ice cream and tender meats and fish are included on a soft diet. You may wish to avoid chewier, tougher foods such as raw fruits and vegetables and hard-to-chew meats in the first few weeks after surgery.
Increasing Fiber Intake
In the weeks that follow your colon resection, you may be able to start adding fibrous foods. Fiber foods such as fruits, veggies and whole grains travel through your body without being digested. They do attract water, however, that adds bulk to your stool and makes it easier to pass. After surgery, add fiber foods to your diet at a rate of one serving per day. Examples include a half-cup of cereal or half a piece of fruit. You may have to experiment with different foods as some could upset your new digestive system while others do not. Drinking 10 glasses of water per day also can help make fiber easier to pass.
Some of the most common dietary-related side effects after colon resection are gas, diarrhea and constipation. While unpleasant, they are a common occurrence. You may wish to temporarily eliminate foods known to cause these symptoms until you have had more time to heal. Examples include broccoli, beans, coffee, red wine, cabbage, carrots, spinach and beer. Eating large meals also increases the likelihood you will experience unpleasant side effects. Turn to tummy-easing foods such as applesauce, bananas, peanut butter, rice, tapioca and weak tea if unpleasant symptoms are a regular occurrence.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.