Achieving better nutrition

Nutrition in perioperative care - Nutrition provides building blocks to recover and rebuild following surgery. People with poor nutrition are more likely to have complications post-surgery

Better nutrition in the perioperative period

Balanced nutrition really is key for anyone to improve their health from within, and to reduce risk of complications such as infections and mobilisation after surgery. 

Here are the SIX simple nutritional messages for everyone:

  1. Everyone needs fruit and vegetables which contain vitamins and minerals. And nuts. And oily fish or equivalent.
  2. Everyone needs protein – to help healing.
  3. Drink water.
  4. Obesity increases the risks of surgery. Reducing weight is hard, but is a balance of:
    • reduce portion size
    • consider frequency of eating
    • consider different types of food.
  5. Avoid processed foods.
  6. Exercise – this increases fitness, but also acts to moderate carbohydrate metabolism and mean that you have muscles which are a store of protein useful for healing. Read more on CPOC's messaging around exercise here


Supporting patients to improve their nutrition

Below you will find tools and links to resources to help your patients improve their nutrition and prepare them for surgery

Macmillan Cancer Support

The Building-up Diet Booklet has suggestions on how to help boost  energy and protein intake when appetite is poor. It explains healthy eating and how foods are used in our bodies. There are sample menus, and a suggested shopping list of items that may help when preparing meals.

The Stay Healthy-eat a healthy diet easy read booklet uses a mixture of simple language and images

Click here for other Macmillan lifestyle support resources

British Society of Lifestyle Medicine

The British Society of Lifestyle Medicine offers resources on eating a healthy diet and avoided processed foods as well as podcast series such as their Microbiome which touches on nutrition frequently.


Read the Fit 4 Surgery School case study
University Hospital Southampton NHS FT

A preoperative “Fit 4 Surgery” school was established at University Hospital Southampton in May 2016. The school consists of a two-hour classroom based session covering the benefits of exercise, nutrition, the Enhanced Recovery approach, and lifestyle modification advice regarding smoking and alcohol intake. All patients undergoing elective major colorectal, urological and upper GI resections are invited to attend. The aim of the school is to provide patients with advice and tools to enable behaviour modification and improve fitness prior to major elective surgery.

Read more here

Fitter Better Sooner
Royal College of Anaesthetists

Fitter patients who are able to improve their health and activity levels recover from surgery more quickly and with fewer complications. 

The Royal College of Anaesthetists' Fitter Better Sooner resources will provide information needed to become fitter and better prepared for surgery

Public Health Collaboration

PHC offers 8 free sessions on real food lifestyle courses and free weekly online lifestyle support groups for everyone


CPOC has not undertaken a full review of these resources, unless it specifically states CPOC endorsement has been granted. CPOC is simply providing links to these resources.

Click on the link below for additional CPOC patient resources.