With the loss of the esophagus from your digestive tract, your meals are not absorbed as they were prior to surgery. An esophagectomy often changes your preferences of food textures, serving sizes, and timing of beverages. Your surgeon will recommend a special diet so that you may be well nourished and as healthy as possible. For a meal plan to meet your specific needs and food habits, ask your healthcare team for a referral to a Registered Dietitian (RD) who works with cancer survivors. If you continue to lose weight or don’t have enough energy, an RD can help you develop a healthy meal plan.

Sample menus following an esophagectomy include soft, moist, or blended foods that are neither spicy nor gaseous. Additionally, fluid intake and small meal sizes are key to being well nourished. Plan to eat six or more small meals daily. Your healthcare team may initially suggest a liquid diet with no simple sugars before you advance to soft foods, which are featured in the following esophagectomy sample menus.

At first, you may be able to tolerate only one or two foods at a meal. If dumping syndrome is an issue, sip fluids with meals and drink most of your fluids 30 minutes to an hour after solid food. Ask your healthcare team or dietitian how many calories you need daily. If you need more calories, add more spreads, sauces, protein, and nutrition supplements between meals. Because every cancer survivor is different, work closely with your team to follow their nutrition instructions.

Read more at Esophagectomy Nutrition Guidelines.

Personalized Nutrition Consultations 

Want to talk one-on-one with a registered dietitian? Free phone consultations are available to patients and caregivers of all cancer types.

LEARN MORE

Esophagectomy Sample Menu: Day 1

Meal

Suggested Items

Notes

Breakfast

Calories 300

1 egg, scrambled
1 slice toast, whole-wheat
2-4 oz. grape juice
2 tsp. canola oil or margarine
2 tsp. jelly
Stir a scoop of protein powder into eggs for extra protein. Use vitamin C fortified juice.
Morning Snack

Calories 410

1/2 cup applesauce
Between Meals:
8 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
Choose liquid supplements that say “very high calorie” or “plus.”
Lunch

Calories 300

1/2 cup casserole with shredded chicken and chopped vegetables
1 slice whole-wheat toast
2 tsp. vegetable oil or margarine
2-4 oz. plum juice
4 oz. creamy yogurt or lactose-free
Make the casserole very moist. Finely chop the vegetable pieces.

Use more margarine if tolerated.

If lactose intolerant, use lactose-free yogurt and milk.

Afternoon Snack

Calories 250

½ small banana
Between Meals:
4 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
Add a scoop of protein powder toyour beverage for extra protein.
Dinner

Calories 330

2 oz. lean ground beef patty, moist
1-2 Tbsp. gravy on meat
1/3 cup mashed potatoes
1 dinner roll
2-4 oz. vegetable juice
2 tsp. canola oil or margarine
Add a scoop of protein powder to potatoes if needed. Look for vitamin C fortified juice.
Evening Snack

Calories 490

½ English muffin, toasted
½ Tbsp. peanut butter, smooth
Between Meals:
8 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
Use smooth nut butters. Freeze the liquid supplement beverage in a cup for a treat that tastes like ice cream.

Esophagectomy Sample Menu: Day 2

Meal

Suggested Items

Notes

Breakfast

Calories 350

½ cup cooked oatmeal, moist
1 slice toast, whole-wheat
2-4 oz. cherry juice
2 tsp. canola oil or margarine
2 tsp. jelly
Stir a scoop of protein powder into oatmeal for extra protein. Use vitamin C fortified juice.
Morning Snack

Calories 410

½ cup fruit cocktail
Between Meals:
8 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
Choose liquid supplements that say “very high calorie” or “plus.”
Lunch

Calories 325

1/2 cup macaroni and cheese, moist
1/2 English muffin, toasted
2 tsp. canola oil or margarine
2-4 oz. vegetable juice
Use more margarine if tolerated. Use vitamin C fortified juice.
Afternoon Snack

Calories 250

2 soft pear halves, canned
2-4 oz. lemonade, low-sugar
Between Meals:
4 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
Add a scoop of protein powder to beverage for extra protein.
Dinner

Calories 300

½ cup dried beans, moist
1/3 cup rice, brown
1 dinner roll
1 Tbsp. gravy, oil, or margarine
2-4 oz. tea, low-sugar
Add a scoop of protein powder to beans if needed. Look for vitamin C fortified juice.
Evening Snack 

Calories 520

1 cup yogurt
2-4 oz. juice
Between Meals:
8 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
If lactose intolerant, try tofu yogurt. Freeze the liquid supplement beverage in a cup for a treat that tastes like ice cream.

Esophagectomy Sample Menu: Day 3

Meal

Suggested Items

Notes

Breakfast

Calories 350

1/2 cup cooked hot cereal
1 slice toast, whole-wheat
2-4 oz. apple juice
2 tsp. canola oil or margarine
2 tsp. jelly
Stir a scoop of protein powder into cereal for extra protein. Use vitamin C fortified juice.
Morning

Calories 410

1/2 cup pear sauce
Between Meals:
8 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
Choose liquid supplements that say “very high calorie” or “plus.”
Lunch 

Calories 325

1/2 cup tuna salad with shredded tuna and chopped boiled egg
1 slice toast, whole-wheat
1 Tbsp. salad dressing or mayonnaise
2-4 oz. vegetable juice
4 oz. creamy yogurt, lactose-free
Make tuna salad very moist. Use more salad dressing or mayonnaise if tolerated.

If lactose intolerant, use lactose-free yogurt and milk.

Afternoon Snack

Calories 420

1/2 cup canned pineapple tidbits
2-4 oz. low-sugar lemonade
Between Meals:
8 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
Add a scoop of protein powder to beverage for extra protein.
Dinner

Calories 300

2 oz. ground turkey, moist
1-2 Tbsp. gravy on meat
1/3 cup cooked pasta with cheese
1 dinner roll
1 Tbsp. oil or margarine
2-4 oz. tea, low-sugar
Add a scoop of protein powder to potatoes or tea if needed.
Evening Snack

Calories 520

1 soft high-nutrition bar
2-4 oz. lemonade, low-sugar
Between Meals:
8 oz. high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement
water
Instead of lemonade, make gelatin with your favorite juice for variety. Freeze the liquid supplement beverage in a cup for a treat that tastes like ice cream.