Foods to Avoid After Thyroid Surgery

by | Sep 25, 2023 | Thyroid Health

Faster recovery after thyroid surgery may mean following a strict diet that’s free of most food items you took before getting diagnosed. Sticking to your previous eating habits post-surgery may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb hormone replacement medication, which may affect your quality of life or even cause weight issues in the future.

There’s no denying that preparing meals for a thyroid cancer patient may seem like a daunting task. But once you get used to it, it’s a fulfilling experience knowing that you’re contributing to the healthy recovery of your loved one or close friend.

So, how does life after thyroid surgery look like in terms of diet? Keep scrolling, and you’ll discover the kinds of food to avoid after the procedure.

Which Foods Should You Avoid After Thyroid Surgery and Why?

While it’s clear that practically any food contains unique nutrients that are resourceful to the body, some aren’t just good enough for thyroid health. Get it right, though; no healthy food is off-limits for a thyroid patient. It’s just that most victims record a massive improvement in their symptoms if they limit the consumption of specific meals. These include the following.

Foods Containing Goitrogen

Goitrogens are compounds that interfere with thyroid hormone production by blocking the thyroid gland from uptaking sufficient iodine. They’re naturally occurring chemicals in most plant-based foods, and consuming them in colossal amounts, especially after undergoing such surgery, may be detrimental to your thyroid health and recovery.

However, let’s not be blind to the fact that goitrogen-rich foods are still overly beneficial to our health and cause no interference with thyroid function when taken in controlled amounts and intervals. But since your thyroid functionality is already compromised following the surgery, we recommend you avoid them for the time being.

Below is a list of some foods containing goitrogen that you want to keep away from after thyroid surgery:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Cassava
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Millet
  • Pine nuts
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Strawberry
  • Mustard
  • Chinese broccoli
  • Peanuts
  • Turnips

Highly Processed Foods

Whether frozen or in packages, processed foods are a big no-no after thyroid surgery. Such foods tend to contain unacceptable amounts of sodium, and that’s a red flag for people struggling with hypothyroidism. Sodium may increase an individual’s risk of high blood pressure, which may worsen the situation, considering that your thyroid health is overtly compromised.

Reducing the consumption (or doing away with the intake) of highly processed foods comes along with improving thyroid symptoms, managing body weight, and boosting one’s overall health.

Some of the processed foods to avoid during this time include:

  • Fried fast-food meals
  • Cakes
  • Pastry
  • Cookies
  • Donuts
  • Hot dogs
  • Excessive alcohol

Soy Foods

Soy foods have zero side effects on the thyroid gland in individuals with normally functioning thyroid and adequate iodine levels. However, such foods may affect the absorption of thyroid hormone replacement medication, which you’ll need to take after undergoing surgery. So as long as you do not want to avoid soy foods entirely, you should make sure that you’re on an empty stomach (or have not eaten any soy food) when it’s time to take the thyroid medication.

Researchers have also raised the alarm over taking isoflavones – an active ingredient in soy foods. It’s believed that this component may overtly increase the symptoms of thyroid infection, especially among patients with marginal iodine intake. However, more research needs to be conducted to identify the full evidence-backed effects of soy foods on thyroid function.

Some foods containing soy that you should avoid after thyroid surgery include:

  • Soy nuts
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Whole soybeans
  • Miso
  • Tempeh

Gluten-rich Foods

If you have Hashimoto’s disease, a significant cause of hypothyroidism, the chances are that you have celiac disease, as well. That’s because both Hashimoto’s and celiac diseases are autoimmune disorders – developing one most likely leads to getting diagnosed with another. What has this got to do with gluten and thyroid function, though?

Going gluten-free is the first step to managing Hashimoto’s disease, which, as we mentioned, causes thyroid infection. The protein structure in gluten contains the same amino acid sequence as that of thyroid tissue. When a gluten-sensitive individual interacts with gluten, they trigger their immune system to react to the thyroid tissue. You can imagine the double tragedy when the inflammatory immune cells attack and destroy the thyroid tissue for mistaken identity.

The bottom line is, sticking to a gluten-free diet after surgery improves the thyroid symptoms and aids in faster recovery.

Some of the gluten-rich foods you should avoid include:

  • WheatFoods to Avoid After Thyroid Surgery - Breads and Oats
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Bread
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Candies
  • Rye

Foods With High Fiber Content

Fiber is one of the most resourceful carbs that helps control blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol levels, maintains a healthy weight, etc. However, you don’t want to take fiber-rich foods excessively, especially if you’re struggling with thyroid symptoms. Too much dietary fiber uptake may interfere with your digestive system and hinder the absorption of thyroid hormone replacement medication.

The state’s Daily Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults aged 50 years or below should take 25-38 grams of fiber daily. But, of course, there’s no harm in forfeiting it entirely until you recover from your thyroid surgery. If you must be on a high-fiber diet during this period, be sure to consult your doctor to determine if it’s appropriate to increase your thyroid medication dose.

Some fiber-rich foods to avoid include:

  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Beans
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

Staying Healthy After Thyroid Surgery

There’s an extensive list of what to eat after thyroid surgery. So don’t despair, seeing that some of your favorite delicacies have been temporarily discouraged. After all, it’s all for a good cause, and the sooner you adapt to your new diet, the faster you will recover and start living life normally.

C/V ENT Surgical Group is a hub for board-certified Head & Neck Surgeons/ENT with a wealth of surgical experience treating patients with thyroid disorders when surgery is warranted. However, for hormone issues related to the thyroid gland and medications needed after thyroid surgery, the experts would be Endocrinologists, which our surgeons have great referral sources to refer patients. As such our physicians/surgeons provide unparalleled care in the surgical management of your condition to achieve faster and complication-free recovery. If you’d love to learn more about thyroid surgery, contact C/V ENT Surgical Group today!