Summer Preop Diet: Using the Healthy Flavors of Summer to Get Fit for Your Fall Surgery
Nutrition is one of the most important parts of any surgery—after all, how strong and healthy your body is going into surgery plays a pivotal role in the success of your procedure and how quickly you’ll be able to get back to normal afterward. If you’re getting ready to undergo a surgery in the fall, the great news is you have a major opportunity to use the healthy (and tasty!) flavors of summer to fuel your body with top-notch nutrition for your upcoming procedure.
Today, we’re breaking down our top tips for letting summer’s most refreshing flavors set you up for serious success for your fall surgery. Read on for everything you need to know to turn nature’s summertime gifts into a rewarding, nutrient-rich preop diet…
Embrace fresh fruit.
For decades, fad-diets have taught us that fruit—and particularly the sugar that accompanies it—is something to fear. But the truth is fruits are whole, nutritious, nutrient-packed power foods that are just as satisfying to eat as they are good for your body. Seasonal summer fruit offers up a natural source of the minerals, vitamins, and hydration our bodies need to enter surgery strong and recover quickly—providing benefits that range from reducing inflammation to helping you lower your cholesterol. A few of our favorite fruits to embrace as part of your preop diet include:
- Watermelon: This beloved summer fruit contains over 90% water, making it a tasty way to stay hydrated before surgery—which is key for optimal immune function and for keeping your digestive system regular. Plus, watermelon is chock-full of iron and antioxidants, and one small slice contains about 10% of the Vitamin A you need every day.
- Cucumber: Cucumber is loaded with fiber and water—making it a great addition to not only your preop diet, but your post-op diet as well (as constipation can occur as a result of prescribed pain meds).
- Oranges: The high Vitamin-C content in oranges helps your body form collagen, which is essential for proper healing. Vitamin C is also great for optimal immune function.
- Strawberries: These flavor-packed summer sweet treats offer up a significant amount of Vitamin C, manganese, folate, and potassium.
- Mango: High in fiber, folate, and Vitamins A, C, and B6—mangoes are an often-overlooked summer fruit that can be an incredibly beneficial addition to your preop diet. They’re an especially great source of iron, which can help your body increase its calcium content before surgery.
- Blueberries: Low in calories and high in nourishment, blueberries are among the most nutrient-dense of all summer fruits, with just one cup providing nearly 25% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C and manganese, along with 36% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K. They’re also great for lowering your blood pressure—making them particularly important for anyone who’s following a heart-healthy preop diet.
Tap into summer’s most nutrient-dense veggies.
Sweet flavors aren’t the only thing nature serves up during the summer months—the sunshine season is also known to produce an array of hearty, delicious, and nutrient-dense vegetables that make for a high-impact addition to your preop diet. Be on the lookout for ways to incorporate the following summer veggies into your daily diet as you prepare to undergo surgery in the fall:
- Potatoes: So often deep-fried and over-salted to pure perfection, this root vegetable tends to get a bad rap—but, when prepared properly (think: baked, boiled, or sauteed in heart-healthy olive or avocado oil), potatoes can make a great and filling addition to a well-rounded preop diet. They’re packed with protein and antioxidants—and one baked potato can provide nearly 30% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, and potassium.
- Celery: With around 25 anti-inflammatory compounds, celery is amazing for protecting against inflammation as you prepare for surgery—and it’s also great for optimal digestion, as one cup of celery sticks contains around 5 grams of fiber (not to mention, the water content of celery is around 95%).
- Asparagus: You’ll find a high amount of fiber, folate, and Vitamins A, C, and K in asparagus. This filling summer veggie is also great for breaking down toxins in the liver, losing weight before surgery, and reducing inflammation.
- Snow Peas: Move over mushy peas—fresh summer peas are far crispier, healthier, and—yes—tastier than the canned version many of us were spoon-fed as children. Snow peas are an excellent source of much-needed minerals like iron, potassium, and manganese, all of which can help increase bone density; Vitamin C, which is ideal for building a healthy immune system before surgery; and fiber to aid in healthy digestion. They’re also extremely heart healthy and, thanks to the potassium they contain, can help reduce blood pressure.
Don’t forget about your greens.
As you’re preparing to undergo fall surgery, be on the lookout for opportunities to include plenty of greens in your preop diet. Rather than using near-nutritionless iceberg lettuce as a salad base, opt for dark, leafy greens that are just as low-calorie but far more nutrient-dense. Or, instead of your favorite sandwich, skip the bread and place the toppings on a bed of leafy greens, microgreens, and sprouts. Another great option for incorporating greens—particularly if you’re not used to consuming them on a regular basis—is to throw a handful into your favorite fruit smoothie where your taste buds will hardly notice them.
- Sprouts: Sprouts are the often-forgotten, unsung hero of salads, as, across the board, they have higher amounts of the nutrients they contain than their fully-grown counterparts. Most sprouts are rich in folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and Vitamin K—and they also contain high amounts of fiber, which is great for optimizing digestion before surgery.
- Leafy greens: Kale, spinach, and chard are all key components of any well-rounded preop diet. Their high Vitamin-K content helps protect your bones from osteoporosis and provides anti-inflammatory effects—while their high folate content promotes heart health.
- Microgreens: Microgreens have made a big splash on the culinary scene as of late—but their benefits extend far beyond making for a trendy Instagram upload. From pea shoots and sunflower shoots to wheatgrass and radish sprouts, microgreens are packed with amino acids, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants—making them a powerful addition to your summer preop diet…and a great excuse to venture to your local farmer’s market!
Get creative with preparation.
Eating fruits and vegetables doesn’t just have to mean, well, eating fruits and vegetables. There are so many satisfying, creative ways you can incorporate fruits and veggies into your preop diet without feeling like you’re munching on raw carrots and cucumber all day. Summer is all about fun, after all—your diet shouldn’t feel like a drag or you’ll never stick with it!
A few of our favorite ways to embrace summer’s fresh flavors include:
- Mocktails and spritzers: Whether it’s infused into your soda water, served as a garnish, or pureed into a liquid and used as a flavoring base—there are tons of ways you can use fresh fruit in spritzers, mocktails, and refreshing summer-inspired beverages.
- Kabobs: Nothing says summer like a kabob—and the great news is they can absolutely be healthy so long as you skip tons of red meat and sugar-packed sauces. Our favorite options? Thread fresh strawberries, melon, and pineapple on wooden skewers for a Vitamin C-packed fruit kabob that’s easy to make and worthy of any summer barbecue. Or, opt for peppers, onion, zucchini, squash and chicken breast skewers for a veggie-protein combo that provides an array of nutrients while keeping you full and satisfied.
- Toasts: Getting on the toast trend is one of our favorite ways to transform summer’s fresh produce into what feels like an indulgent treat. Caramelized fruit (like apricots) on top of toasted-whole grain bread with a sprinkling of microgreens and a drizzle of both heart-healthy olive oil and immune-boosting raw honey is a great option for those who love the sweet side of summer. If you prefer things a little more savory—blistered summer tomatoes with garlic served atop a slice of whole-grain toast and topped with a drizzle of olive oil, a little parmesan, and fresh herbs can mimic the flavors of a pizza, while providing far better preop nutrition.
Keep in mind, while eating fresh fruit and vegetables in the months and weeks leading up your procedure as part of a healthy preop diet is highly recommended, you want to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables in the 24-hour period before anesthesia, as they can take a while to digest and may still be in your system when you undergo anesthesia.
Want even more insightful preop diet tips? Browse the rest of the Mend Well blog for empowering patient information, helpful nutrition advice, and pro pre-surgery tips.