Foods to Avoid After Inguinal Hernia Surgery

Surgical intervention is required to fix inguinal hernias, because fascia — a layer of connective tissue in your abdominal wall — will not regrow on its own to repair and close the hernia’s hole. Though hernia-repair surgery is often successful, it’s not going without risks. Therefore there are a few things to understand before and after operation. How about post-surgery diet?

Foods to avoid

There are usually no special diet restrictions after inguinal hernia surgery and you should be able to eat your normal diet. And the recovery time is also quite fast.

In most cases, people who have hernia-repair surgery don’t have to stay in hospital, even they may go home on the same day of or the day after their operation. They are usually able to return to normal daily activities (especially light activities such as walking and shopping) after 3 weeks, though it’s still important to avoid strenuous activities until the recovery is complete.

However, your diet may also provide a great impact on your healing. Even certain foods may provoke your post-operative pain, making your recovery take longer to complete.

To reduce the risk of problems or complications related to surgery and boost your recovery more quickly, here are a few common culprits to avoid after surgery:

Fatty foods

Several days or weeks after operation, you may find that your bowel movements are not regular as usual. This is normal, but it’s important to avoid straining during bowel movements.

Unfortunately, constipation is also quite common after hernia surgery. It occurs for various causes, such as prescription pain medications which some can slow down the movement of your intestines.

Constipation can cause you to strain on the toilet, worsening pain around your wound. Read meat and other foods high in fat are not easy to digest, which will make constipation more likely. They are also loaded with lots of ‘bad’ saturated fats, which can hurt your cardiovascular system.

Processed foods

Restrict processed foods such as instant ramen, bacon, flavored nuts, microwave-popcorn, processed grains (like white bread and white pasta), frozen dinners, and fruit-snacks high in cane sugar.

Typically, processed foods are low in fiber and poor in nutrients (far less nutritious than their whole food counterparts). Also, they carry ‘bad’ ingredients and chemicals that may impair your healing such as excess salt (sodium), sugar, fat, or even chemical additives.

Dehydrated foods

It’s true that you can store dehydrated foods without having worry that they will spoil or lose in taste. However, they are different than fresh ones. They are also high in sugar and salt to add flavor, and low in water (as the name suggests, dehydration refers to a process that eliminate water). These can make constipation more likely.

Dehydrated foods include potato chips, beef jerky, and some dried fruits. Prunes are an exception, because they are good for your digestive health and may help provide constipation relief.

Milk and dairy products

There are no good answers and benefits that apply across the board when it comes to dairy, because the effects after consuming milk and dairy products seem to vary greatly from person to person.

Dairy products may provoke constipation after operation. They have a label of being ‘binding’, though not always since again the effect varies between individuals. Their reputation as ‘constipating food’ is due to their low-fiber and high-fat contents.

However dairy products are high in some essential nutrients, especially such as protein and calcium. If you don’t have any discomforts after eating dairy products, you can continue eat them in moderation. But to keep safe, focus on low-fat /low-sugar dairy products such as free-fat yogurt and skim milk.


Cheese is high in fats, which are mostly of the saturated type. Also, it is loaded with sodium. The combination of excess saturated fats and sodium from your diet can effectively provoke abdominal bloating, gas, constipation, and other digestive problems.

And these could be much worse if you have lactose intolerance, because lactose in cheese is harder to digest by some lactose-intolerant people.

Other constipating foods
  1. Sugary foods such as cakes, candies, pastries, and sweet beverages.
  2. Alcohol, caffeine, soda cans, and soft-drinks (high in caffeine). They can provoke dehydration, making your constipation worse.
  3. Avoid also gluten-containing foods if you have allergic reaction to gluten (a protein found in certain foods such as barley, wheat, spelt, and rye).
  4. Fried, fast foods – including fast-foods snacks such as ice cream, milk chocolate, cookies, and chips.
  5. Unripe bananas.
  6. Persimmon, an Eastern Asian fruit that could be constipating for some individuals.
  7. Etc.

What else you can do?

While certain foods are bad when you’re recovering from inguinal hernia surgery, there are also many foods that may help provide quick healing. Eating the right foods does matter, especially in the weeks following surgery.

Here are a few examples of what you need to prioritize in your diet:

Plenty of dietary fiber is a must

Fiber may be one of the most important things you need as your body is healing itself and recovering from surgery.

It plays a key role to prevent and relieve constipation. But don’t rely on fiber supplements, unless your doctor prescribes them. Instead, go with a natural way by adding more high-fiber foods — such as fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains — to your diet.

Get enough protein!

Your body needs protein for many body functions. Without plenty of protein, it’s more difficult for the body to heal tissues and skin injured by surgery. Because protein and other nutrients are vital to build necessary building blocks and healthy new tissues!

Protein can be found in many foods. But to keep safe, choose some that are also free /low of constipating properties such as saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. To improve your dietary protein status, focus on lean protein! Skinless chicken, turkey, and fish are good sources of lean protein. And if you’re a vegetarian, consider tofu (soy product), beans, nuts, or other plant-based protein foods.

Plenty of calories are necessary, too

It’s important to keep your weight healthy after operation. Overweight and obesity can drive more pressure in your abdomen, worsening your post-operative pain and may also increase the risk of recurrent hernia. But this doesn’t mean you have to significantly cut down on your dietary calories if you’re obese or overweight. Instead, it’s much better to lose your weight gradually.

Maintaining a healthy-body weight matters when you’re recovering from hernia-repair surgery, so does eating enough calories! Even though you’re obese, getting plenty of calories is necessary to support your body through the healing process. Include more foods you know to be nutritious and healthful in your diet, and also make sure all of them meet to your daily calorie requirements!

Keep hydrated

Being hydrated can also help reduce your risk of constipation and straining on the toilet. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, unless your healthcare provider gives you specific instruction.

Also, drink slowly to avoid dumping syndrome, a condition when liquids go down through your digestive tract too fast and in large amounts. This dumping syndrome may cause dizziness — or worsen your nausea and vomiting.

You might also like to read:

  1. What NOT to do with hernias?
  2. Can you die from hernias?
What else?

Again, focus on unprocessed, whole foods to get the most benefits from your diet! For examples; choose onions instead of onion rings, baked potatoes are much better than French fries, and eating a whole apple is more nutritious than apple juice.

It may also be helpful to consider bland, low-fat foods if your stomach is upset. These include broiled chicken, plain rice, and toast. And chew your foods thoroughly. Larger pieces of food are more difficult to digest in the stomach, causing blockages that may trigger upset stomach. Also, get enough sleep – rest when your body feels tired. This is important because lack of sleep can inhibit your healing process, making you recover longer than should be.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to eat after operation. Your appetite may decrease for a couple of weeks, making it more difficult to eat nutritious foods. But even though you lose your appetite — try to eat, because your body needs more nutrients to help your recover! For more guidance, talk to your dietitian or doctor, especially if you are not able to take in liquids and have severe nausea!


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