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Article: Is Pasta Good for Surgery: Ask a Registered Dietitian

Nutrition Tips

Is Pasta Good for Surgery: Ask a Registered Dietitian

Pasta good for surgery

Surgery is like trauma; your body immediately tries to heal itself. As your body tries to heal itself, it looks for quick energy sources.

So you may be wondering, what should I be eating to heal faster after surgery?

Pasta is a perfect quick energy source! Including pasta in a post-surgery meal plan will help you heal after surgery.

In today’s article, I will be sharing why pasta is a great post-surgery food and different meal ideas to try after surgery. I also include a list of different types of pasta I recommend to help you heal quickly following your surgery.

Looking for more plastic surgery content? Make sure to check out my blog post on the nutrition recommendations for patients undergoing surgery from a plastic surgery dietitian!

Why is pasta a good post-surgery food?

After surgery, your body will already be fatigued after the stress caused by surgery. If you follow a diet such as the keto diet, where you are restricting foods like pasta, you will find yourself feeling extremely tired, cranky, and may even be dealing with blood sugar imbalances.

  1. Carbohydrates, like pasta, are your body’s preferred energy source.

Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the three macronutrients that your body needs. When carbohydrates are digested they turn into glucose. Many cells in your body prefer to use glucose as a source of energy over fat or protein that you eat. Some cells can only use carbohydrates as energy!

  1. Pasta is a great source because it provides the quick fuel your body needs post-surgery, just as if you were running a marathon.

Carbohydrates are digested quickly and turn into energy as soon as they are ingested. They provide energy to the brain and body and will be the first energy source the body uses to start healing.

  1. It is important to pair pasta with protein like fish, chicken, or tofu to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Because protein takes longer to digest than carbs, pairing protein with pasta will help slow the rate of sugar (carbs) entering the bloodstream. This helps to keep your blood sugars steady and will prevent blood sugar spikes. When you have drastic changes in blood sugar, this can affect your mood and energy, disrupting your body’s ability to heal.

What types of pasta do I NOT recommend?

Is pasta good for surgery
  1. Zucchini or Vegetable Pasta

Pasta made from vegetables tends to have no carbs and is made up of pureed vegetables only. While vegetables are great, it is better to ADD vegetables to your pasta so that you are still getting a good source of carbs in your meal.

  1. “Skinny” Pasta

These low-calorie pasta options won't give you any benefits post-surgery and have very little energy value. When you are healing your body needs extra energy, so choosing low-calorie options is not going to help you heal faster.

  1. Enriched Regular Pasta

It is best to stick to pasta with fiber to help control blood sugar levels as I mentioned earlier. Regular pasta typically has little to no fiber and will not benefit you in the healing process.

What types of pasta do I recommend?

You should look for pasta that is from whole grains or plant protein sources. These types of pasta include fiber, which slows down your digestion and helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Some examples include:

  • Whole grain orzo
  • Brown rice pasta (gluten-free)
  • Chickpea pasta (gluten-free)
  • Quinoa pasta (gluten-free)
  • Whole grain pasta

Quinoa and chickpea pasta offer extra protein in addition to carbohydrates and are digested more slowly. Again, these are just examples and you aren’t limited to only the pasta on this list!

Meal Ideas that Incorporate Pasta

Is pasta good for surgery
  • Chicken & Spinach Pesto Pasta 3oz chicken breast
  • 3oz chicken breast
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta
  • 2-4 tbsp pesto
  • 1 cup spinach
  • Parmesan to taste
  • Barbecue-Glazed Shrimp with Vegetables & Orzo
  • 4oz shrimp
  • 1 cup cooked whole grain orzo
  • ½ cup chopped zucchini
  • ¼ cup chopped bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp barbeque sauce
  • Roasted Red Pepper, Spinach & Feta Penne Pasta
    • 1 cup chickpea penne pasta
    • ½ cup chopped bell peper
    • 1 cup spinach
    • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
    • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Action tip #1: Pick a pasta idea that fits the guidelines I mentioned above and make sure you have the ingredients on hand so you can make it during your surgery recovery period.

Final Thoughts

Here are a few key takeaways from this article:

  • What you eat after surgery can help your body recover more easily
  • Carbohydrates, like pasta, are your body’s preferred source of energy and the most quickly and easily digested
  • Whole grain or plant protein pasta has a lot of fiber that can support your blood sugar and mood after surgery

If you would like a more detailed nutrition plan that meets your specific needs and surgical goals, then make sure to contact me through my contact page. You can also give me a follow on Instagram at @nutriton.plasticsurgery!

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