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Eating after an Esophagectomy
Feeding Tube: What to Do at Home
- Used 1-2 months after surgery for supplemental feeds at night
- Flush the tube frequently to maintain patency (e.g. before feeds, between medication administration, after feeds)
- Likely a home care nurse will be available to assist you if you have issues
- Tube will likely be slipped out in the office when you are weaned off of feeds and able to maintain adequate nutrition by mouth
How to Drink/Eat: Avoid Dumping Syndrome
- Typically you will be instructed to start with a clear liquid diet for 1 week after discharge, then full liquid diet for 1 week, continuing nightly tube feeds
- You will be cleared by your surgeon to have soft solids at your follow up appointment
- Eat or drink small quantities (3-6 ounces) every 2 hours that are high in protein and calories
- Chew all of your foods into liquid, slowly and mindfully, without gulping and swallowing chunks
- Drink your fluids between meals and not during meals (to avoid filling up on empty calories)
- When you feel full or bloated, stop eating!
What to Drink/Eat: Increasing Calories and Protein
- DO NOT DIET!
- Drink fluids high in calories (e.g. milk, Gatorade, juice, protein shakes)
- Carbonated drinks (e.g. soda) may cause bloating/distention and acidic drinks (e.g. coffee) may cause reflux; be cognizant of what you’re eating and how it makes you feel
- Use foods high in fat and protein (e.g. whole milk, butter, cheese) or add protein powder
- Always have your favorite foods available – helps in times you don’t particularly feel like eating!
Food/Drink to Initially Avoid: Build Tolerance First
- Seeds, nuts, chips, pretzels, popcorn, crusty breads
- Raw fruits and vegetables (e.g. broccoli, berries, kale)
- Tough meats