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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > October 2017 > YOUR RECOVERY


Eating plan

Food may not be at the front of your mind when you’re about to go into hospital, but eating well before – and after – an operation or treatment plays a crucial part in speedy recovery. Here’s how to plan

GOING INTO HOSPITAL takes its toll, physically and emotionally, but we may get better and regain strength more quickly if our immune systems are built up before treatment. That means ensuring you eat nutrition-dense foods before your hospital stay and getting back into regular eating patterns as soon as possible afterwards.

‘Eating well before and after surgery means thinking ahead,’ advises Stella Vig, council member for the Royal College of Surgeons. So, although you may not feel like it, it will help to stock up on easy-to-prepare ingredients and healthy ready-made meals for your return home. Batchcooking to fill your freezer is also a good way to get the nutrients in.

Get ahead

Scientists believe a poor intake of certain nutrients lowers immunity, although only a few studies make this direct link. ‘Essential nutrients include zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, C, and E,’ says nutrition editor Amanda Ursell. ‘You’ll get these from veg, fruit, wholegrains, fish, pulses, eggs, lean meat and healthy oils and nuts – essentially, the Med Diet.’

Research also shows taking a probiotic supplement before and during a hospital stay can minimise the risk of diarrhoea and an infection called clostridium difficile. This mostly affects people who have recently been on antibiotics, and is easily spread in a hospital setting. It’s worth checking with your consultant to see if a supplement would help.

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About Healthy Food Guide

Get clued up on everything veggie with our vegetarian special issue! Find out all you need to know about vegetarian nutrition and eating out, and try our nutritious and tasty recipes. Discover our healthy eating plan for before, during and after a hospital stay, and sort out problem hair with our expert guide to five main conditions. And we've got your winter fitness sorted with new ideas for exercising indoors. Plus, try this month's all-veggie diet planner, warming soups and an extract from Ching-He Huang's brand new book – it's all in this month's Healthy Food Guide.