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The Best Vegetarian Meals for Healing From Surgery

By Jill Corleone, RDN, LD

Your diet may be the furthest thing from your mind following your surgery. But eating a healthy diet can help promote healing and speed up your recovery. You may worry about your nutrient intake if you follow a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian meals for healing after surgery should provide adequate amounts of proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Nutrients for Healing

When it comes to healing after surgery, protein is essential for making new tissue and preventing infection. How much protein you need depends on your surgery but ranges from 1.2 to 2.0 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. you need 82 to 136 g of protein a day. Vegetarian sources of protein include beans, nuts, grains, vegetables, eggs and dairy foods. Vitamin C and zinc are also essential for wound healing. Food sources of vitamin C include spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, oranges and cantaloupe. Beans are a good source of zinc on the vegetarian diet. The best vegetarian meals should include foods rich in protein, vitamin C and zinc.

Breakfast

A nutrient-rich vegetarian breakfast meal that helps promote recovery from surgery includes two slices of whole-wheat toast with 2 tbsp. of peanut butter, a cup of cow or soy milk and some fresh strawberries. This meal is high in vitamin C and provides 22 g of protein. You can also try two scrambled eggs or one-half cup of scrambled tofu with a toasted whole-wheat English muffin, one container of cow or soy yogurt and some fresh melon for about 25 to 28 g of protein.

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Lunch

A healthy vegetarian lunch meal to help meet your needs after surgery includes a baked potato topped with broccoli and cheese, served with mixed greens tossed with one-half cup of chickpeas, one-fourth cup of almonds and balsamic vinaigrette. This meal contains about 30 g of protein and is high in zinc and vitamin C. Or try 2 cups of lentil soup with two slices of whole-wheat bread topped with 2 tbsp. of peanut butter with a cup of milk for about 39 g of protein.

Dinner

Make a nutrient-rich, high-protein stir fry with peppers, broccoli, carrots, one-half cup of edamame and 4 oz. of tofu served with 1 cup of brown rice, for about 40 g of protein. A veggie burger on a whole-wheat bun with 1 cup of baked vegetarian beans and 1 cup of cooked spinach is high in zinc and vitamin C and contains about 35 g of protein.

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