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.