Ask Ashley: Help! I Need Suggestions for Easier Post-Surgery Recovery

Ask Ashley Koff, RD, Calmful Living Nutrition Editor


What do you recommend for people who have been on lay-off due to a surgery? I know what I need to eat when I am able to work out but have been on lay-up since labral repair, hip reconstruction (not replacement) three months ago. What does my body need? How do I meet my requirements when I am not ambulating enough to meet my normal baseline? I am a former 100-mile-per-month runner and big gym goer and have been really struggling since lay-up last year and surgery three months ago. My body is not liking this rest! And I need to fit in a wedding dress next year! Help!


Dear Injured but Not Out,

Ahhh, these questions are so near and dear to me, as I spent the back half of 2015 recovering from surgery—it’s so hard, right? Here are my thoughts.

Reduce Stress

Injury, not being able to work out, not being able to do your daily tasks at all or as efficiently, and not feeling on your A game physically are all stressful enough; and with stress comes the potential for suboptimal sleep and digestion, both of which can lead to weight gain! Reduce stress in the following ways:

  • Magnesium—from foods (nuts, seeds, greens, cacao); from supplements (I love Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm powder); from creams and baths (ditto for Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm Cream and Natural Calm Bath)—helps turn off stress at the cellular level.
  • Find Laughter: Watch it, listen to it, read it, and find ways to laugh, which helps the body and mind reduce stress.
  • Do Better Carbs:
    o  Whole grains versus flour; whole fruits versus juices and jams and concentrates; whole beans versus puffed or processed; whole starchy vegetables versus chips.
    o  Keep in mind proper amounts: aim to keep carbs to one serving per pit stop; that’s about 15 g total carbohydrate.
    o  More frequently: Pit-stop about every three hours.
    o  Consider no carbs after 5:00 p.m. unless your evenings require a lot of physical energy or you need to be alert later at night (then still keep it to one serving).

Beware of the Boosts

Caffeine, “energy” herbs and other stimulants may actually be helpful here to keep your body (and your mind, emotions) feeling the energy that fitness previously provided, BUT

  • overuse can interfere with sleep;
  • stimulants may make you feel like you can do more than you should, when your body needs to focus its energy on healing;
  • energy boosters that don’t provide calories should still accompany some calories so that your digestive system doesn’t feel tricked and confused;
  • maintain healthy digestion and elimination with these tips:
    o  Adequate water and magnesium and potassium will help.
    o  Movement (as allowed) will help. So, can you do physical twists? Can you do a seated march, or some other type of movement? (Consult your PT or trainer or doctor.)
    o  Liquid nutrition may help (download my Better Liquid Nutrition consult or quick start guide).

Recovery from surgery isn’t easy, but it is necessary. And just be glad you will get through all of this before your wedding. It may not be what you want to hear, but I would choose your dress based on how your body is currently and then make adjustments based on your progress.



Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond through raising public awareness of the value of quality eating. Visit her site at:

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