Diet after surgery

Eating at regular times helps to encourage a regular pattern for your bowel function. If your appetite isn’t good, it may be easier to eat several small meals a day, rather than one or two large meals. Drink at least 1–2 litres of fluid a day, especially if you have loose stools or diarrhoea.

Including high-protein foods such as fish, meat and eggs in your diet will help your body to heal after surgery.

It’s important to eat a wide range of different food types for a healthy, well-balanced diet. But, some foods may cause problems. Keeping a daily diary of what you eat and how this affects you can help.

If you have diarrhoea, choose low-fibre foods such as white bread and pasta instead of wholemeal. Eat fewer leafy green vegetables, cook vegetables well and peel fruit.

As your bowel settles, try to gradually reintroduce foods that caused you problems. You may find they no longer affect your bowel. If you continue to be limited in what you can eat, it’s definitely worth getting advice from a dietitian.


Some people have problems with excess wind or bloating after bowel surgery. Here are some tips:

  • Eat slowly and chew food well.
  • Be aware that beans, beer, chewing gum, fizzy drinks and onions can cause wind.
  • Peppermint capsules and oil, fennel and mint tea may help.

You may find our information on eating problems and cancer helpful.

Back to Surgery explained

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.

If you have a stoma

Adjusting to a stoma takes time but most people manage well with support from their stoma care nurse.

Sex life after bowel surgery

Treatments for anal cancer can have some effects on your sex life. Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse for advice.