Jefferson Health

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

Additional Resources