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Foods to avoid after surgery with scars - chinese beliefs?


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I hope this is the most appropriate place to post my question which is as per title of this thread.


I'm Chinese but born and brought up in the western world, but have always been told that after surgery (with scars), that certain foods should be avoided for as long as possible.  Such as beef, eggs, sesame seeds/oil, non-scaled fish, seafood such as prawns/crab, soy sauce, asparagus, nuts (all types of nuts such as almonds?) and the list goes on.


Some say to avoid for the first few months, some say a year.  What I don't understand is we're all humans, so why is it that most - if not all - of the above foods are encouraged in the western world as they contain beneficial vitamins etc to promote healing?


Do all Chinese avoid certain foods after surgery?





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The topic of food and chinese beliefs is huge.


There are foods for everything, from what to eat for a month after childbirth,  to the time of year,  to the sort of malady you suffering.


There are hot foods and cooling foods.


Certain foods to be eaten at various celebrations.


There is a list of foods not to be eaten at certain times of the year and the list goes on.


Why it is certain things are good or bad has a long history, this is a subject that people study for years.


I can't advise you on whether or not to follow these beliefs, its up to you.


What I would say is eat a healthy, balanced diet of the food you like. Everything in moderation and a little of what you fancy never did you any harm - or so they say:)


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It's true for most of Chinese, especially in the South areas like Guangdong province. If you go see traditional Chinese medicine doctors, they'll tell you not to eat some types of food after surgery, usually seafood and spices which may irritate the skin.

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All these food tips are just small contributions to a good recovery. They are very minor relative to good sleep, and maintain, if possible, some exercise to keep the blood flowing. In addition, maintaining a generally healthy and varied diet is generally good enough, though the added Chinese advice on what food to avoid can help. The best way to understand it is to understand toxicity.



The Chinese food advice from a TCM standpoint can further help. The best way to translate the Chinese advice to Western logic is to look at toxicity levels. It makes sense to avoid food with higher toxicity levels (though still within safety thresholds for humans), especially those that are known to sometimes case skin issues (e.g. crab/prawns) or case general allergies (eggs/nuts). After surgery the immuun system is sometimes less strong, so certain allergic reactions may appear, which you normally don't experience. Then there's the concept of cooling and heating food, which I explain below.


Cooling vs warming

In China, food and beverages are also classified in 'cooling' versus 'warming/heating'. After surgery, it's generally recommend to avoid cooling food and have more warming food. Same is for beverages. In work in the field of tea, and I never recommend to drink very cooling teas such as Honeysuckle tea after surgeries and pregnancies. A ginger tea would be much better to keep the blood flowing and support recovery.


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Thanks for your insights everyone!


I omitted a couple of things from my list.  These include spicy hot food and duck / goose!


I don't often consume duck but I do enjoy it, but what I do miss are spicy foods!


@Teasenz - so would foods such as beef and lamb be regarded as warming/heating foods, thus help with circulation?  I always hear that red meat should be cut out, especially beef.



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I'm no expert on these things, but lamb and mutton 羊肉 are promoted in the cold months of the year in Kunming as being warming. I go with friends once or twice a month to a big, busy lamb hotpot restaurant in a Muslim section of the city. It has become a winter ritual.


I don't know about the TCM properties of beef, but beef hotpot 牛肉火锅 is also popular in the cold months. I live near a very good beef hotpot place that has customers lined up out the door in winter. It is Shantou-style beef, thin cut and delicious. 汕头牛肉火锅 -- 牛很鲜潮汕牛肉火锅.

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In terms of diseases, I got chickenpox a few years ago during summer, as an adult (even though my parents did their best to expose me to it when I was in the kindergarten). My Chinese girlfriend put seafood (including fish), tofu, beef, hot spices, sesam paste and alcohol on the banned list, I practically ate veggies with chicken and pork. Didn't fully understand the logic why these kinds of food were selected, but well, many of these beliefs are based on TCM.

From a western point of view, I think meat soups (especially beef and chicken) are higly recommended when you are after surgery or in general sick, as they "give you strength".

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Forbidding you tofu during convalescence surprises me. But, as I've said before, this is not a subject about which I know much. 


Chicken soup seems to be an international suggestion to assist in medical recovery. One of the few treatments on which there is global agreement. There is no way millions of Jewish mothers and Chinese grannies could all be wrong about it. "Chicken soup, yes!" You can take that to the bank.

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  • 1 year later...
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I think asking people for advice was the right decision because everyone has a different approach to this issue. But also we should not forget that there are really more necessary foods that we need to eat during the surgery recovery diet.

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On 10/30/2021 at 2:38 PM, stefangrim said:

But also we should not forget that there are really more necessary foods that we need to eat during the surgery recovery diet.


What would those be, according to TCM?

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