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Now that your breast reconstruction surgery is scheduled, your medical team has probably given you pre-surgery instructions, which typically includes no food or drink after midnight. But what about what you should and should not eat the day before, or even the week before, your surgery? Did you know that changing your diet even just a little bit can actually help to improve your recovery from surgery?

You have probably heard of carb-loading, where runners increase their carb intake about a week before a race, but when you are headed into surgery, you will benefit from what’s called protein loading. Protein is necessary for your body. It helps to build and repair your muscles, skin and other body tissues. It also helps to fight infection, carries oxygen through the body and balances your body’s fluids. These are all great things that your body needs in order to help your wound to heal.

You can find lean, protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, fish, dairy, soy products, beans, nuts, and seeds. But how much should you eat? There are ‘protein calculators’ online to help you figure this out. The calculator has you input your age, height, weight, and exercise level and then computes your daily protein requirements. For example, a

lightly active 55-year-old woman who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds is recommended to eat 91 – 163 grams/day on a regular day. The higher your diet is in protein, the better it is for wound healing. You should start eating enough protein every day beginning about two weeks before surgery.

Your diet should also include foods with vitamin C and zinc. Zinc helps to produce protein and can be found in foods such as poultry, beef, fish, and beans. Vitamin C makes connective tissue and high levels of the vitamin can help the healing of surgical wounds. Vitamin C can be found in such foods as red peppers, tomatoes, oranges, and melons.

When it comes to what you should not be eating the night before surgery, there are really no limitations on the foods you should avoid. Go ahead and enjoy that glass of wine with your steak meal. Don’t go on a bender, although one glass is just fine. However, you probably should forgo that acidic spaghetti meal, especially before going under anesthesia. It’s best to have a light meal in the evening before undergoing surgery the next morning.

Continue good eating habits and protein loading even after your surgery to help aid in your recovery. Finally, if you have dietary restrictions or are uncertain what you should be eating before your procedure, consult with your physician.

To learn more about natural breast reconstruction and the process, contact The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction at or call toll-free at 1-866-374-2627.