Retina Recovery Blog
Food and Facedown Recovery
One of the things you have to address during your facedown recovery is food prep. Are you alone or do you have someone to assist you? Can you prepare some food beforehand and put it in the freezer or is your surgery an emergency? Remember that your full-time job is to do nothing during your recovery. The more that you move, the more the gas bubble moves. The more you can be still and steady, the more you maximize your results. Aim for a 'no-regret recovery'. You don't want to be 3 months out looking back and wondering if you have pushed yourself too much. Your surgeon has set you up for maximum success and wants you to do nothing!
If recovering alone:
- Prepare what you can beforehand. Most people have the assistance of a family member or friend. Their help is vital in allowing you to "focus" on your full-time job, doing nothing! Our local ophthalmologist provides only a 5-10 minute break every hour for bathroom breaks and food breaks. This is not enough time to prepare a meal!
- If you don't have help, purchase some pre-made meals that can be easily warmed in the oven. M & M's has a wide variety of dinner, meals including gluten-free options.
- Several individuals have used Grocery Gateway to order their groceries.
Ideas on What to Eat during Facedown Recovery
Let's first address what to eat. I chose foods that were easy to swallow and light on my stomach, such as soups and smoothies. Almost everyone who had a heavy meal such as steak and potatoes told me that they regreted their decision. As soon as they laid down, they felt like they were going to be sick. Don't add more challenges to your facedown time.
Food Suggestions from Experienced Facedown Patients
We've compiled a list of foods recommended by our clients. Many commented that they ate small portions, light meals, and soft food. We have condensed their feedback down to 10 different food items
- Smoothies, Protein Shakes, Milkshakes
- Soups & Casseroles
- Vegetables, Hummus
- Frozen Dinners
- Liquid replacement meals
Should I Have My Head Up When Eating?
I'm a low-risk type of person. As a result, I chose to eat my food off of a kitchen chair because it forced me to keep my head at an angle. If my head was at an angle, there was more coverage of my retina by the bubble. If there was more coverage of my retina, then I felt I was doing a better job of maximizing my recovery. Whatever your decision, follow your surgeon's instructions and don't cheat/stretch your "free time."
Suggestions on What Not to Eat during Facedown Recovery
I'm a firm believer that food can help or hinder health. Tracy and I have a great bio-molecular nutritionist we have know for over 15 years. He has helped my wife exponentially deal with ulcerative colitis. I've seen her go from death's door in 2005 to optimal health with no dependance pharmaceutical drugs. All to say, I trust Gunn and the health of my eyes. When he learned I had a retinal detachment, he instructed me to be careful about 2 things: coffee and sugar. From additional research, I will also add wheat to this list.
- Coffee – First, coffee is a demineralizer of the eye. I love a good cup of coffee but I now reserve that to 1-2 cups/week and special occasions instead of the daily cup I used to enjoy. A good cup of coffee means that it is organic and prepared properly (which needs a whole other blog). On the days that I am not drinking coffee, I mix up a "Dandy Blend" tea or a freshly grated ginger tea, lemon tea or roasted dandelion root..
- Sugar – I absolutely love ice cream but did you know that 1 tsp of sugar shuts down the immune system for 3-4 hours? When we are healing, we need every bit of our body's defense system to work on our behalf. I admit that this is a struggle but I work really hard at only treating myself on holidays or special occasions rather than every chance I get. It's definitely a character building process.
- Wheat - If inflammation and the eyes go together then I need to eliminate wheat from my diet. Dr. Michael A. Samuel, the author of Macular Degeneration: A Complete Guide for Patients and Their Families, writes, "Modern research into macular degeneration has found that inflammation plays a clear role in the development of the dry form of this disease." Dr. Andrew Weil, the author of Healthy Aging believes that inflammation is the common root of many chronic diseases. [https://www.enhancedvision.com/low-vision-info/eye-conditions/sugar-inflammation-and-macular-degeneration.html]
What is the Best Way to Drink Liquid?
You want to keep hydrated during your recovery. Hydration and your eyes is critical. When you come home from surgery, many people are dehydrated from fasting before surgery. The best advice is to use a straw while drinking. This will allow you to keep your head down.
Whatever you decide to eat, the ultimate goal is to maintain your position to maximize your recovery. This is not he the time to be a martyr--ask others for help and remain still and quiet. You'll have lots of time to return to normal, everyday activities when your recovery period is over.