Eating after Surgery

eatAfter your operation you will be advised not to eat for a few days in order for your system to heal. When your doctors are happy for you to take things by mouth, you will be given water to sip followed by the gradual introduction of a light diet then, after a few days, a normal diet.

When you are able to eat adequate quantities, your doctors may prescribe pancreatic enzymes to help you absorb your food. You will be given instructions on how to take these by your dietitian.

What is a light diet?

Generally this is food which is soft, moist and easily digested.

Suggestions for a light diet include:


  • porridge, cornflakes, rice crispies
  • White bread and butter or spread
  • Smooth apple juice or orange juice

Main meals:

  •  soup, white bread and butter or spread,
  •  banana,
  •  mousse, custard or milky puddings ( e.g., creamed rice)


  • Jelly, mousse, yoghurts, bananas, jelly beans/babies, wine gums, chocolate (no nuts or dried fruit)

Foods to avoid on a light diet:

Fizzy Drinks

Avoid fizzy drinks until you are on a normal diet. This is because fizzy drinks can make you bloated and reduce your appetite. Sometimes fizzy drinks can cause pain if taken in the weeks immediately following surgery.

Nutritional Supplements

Some people need additional high protein or high energy supplements to help them recover from the operation. You will be advised about these by your medical team. It is important to ask your medical team before taking any other supplements or herbal remedies as these may interfere with your treatments

Returning to a normal diet

It can take up to 3 months to return to normal after surgery to remove a pancreatic cancer tumour. It is advisable to try to eat little and often, taking small frequent snacks and high energy drinks between meals.

You will need to ensure you are getting enough energy and protein from your foods so try to avoid watery soups, large quantities of fruit and vegetables and large drinks at mealtimes.

Suggested foods for eating little and often are:


Small bowl of porridge (add cream/jam/honey), small glass of fruit juice


Small piece of cake, milky coffee


Scrambled eggs made with full milk and butter; creamy soup with croutons and toast and butter; thick & creamy yoghurt or mousse dessert


Biscuits and a glass of milk


Small portion of meat with potatoes, rice or pasta; small portion of vegetables; ice cream with sauce


Chocolate bar, cheese and biscuits, packet of crisps


Hot chocolate (milk based), fruit juice, milky coffee



Some people develop diabetes following pancreatic surgery. You may be stared on tablets to manage the blood sugars but some patients will need insulin injections to replace the insulin the pancreas would have normally produced.

You may be referred to a diabetes nurse specialist who will help you manage your diabetes and give help and advice on your insulin injections and managing your diet.

If you are at home following surgery and have symptoms of diabetes including thirst, rapid weight loss and you are passing a lot of urine, contact your GP.

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