A thyroidectomy is a common treatment option for people with certain types of cancers and thyroid disorders that do not respond to other medical interventions. Surgeons in the United States perform over 150,000 thyroidectomies every year. Because thyroid function impacts body weight, many patients have concerns about their long-term diet after a thyroidectomy. 

How Can You Manage Your Long-Term Diet After a Thyroidectomy?

The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the neck. The thyroid gland produces a hormone that plays an important role in regulating digestive, heart, brain, and muscle function and metabolism. 

After a total thyroidectomy, your body will no longer produce thyroid hormone. Your doctor will prescribe a hormone replacement therapy and make recommendations about any dietary changes you should make.

What Is the Best Diet To Follow After a Thyroidectomy?

Some patients can return to their normal diet immediately after a thyroidectomy; however, you may experience a sore throat or have difficulty chewing and swallowing food during your recovery. 

If you experience these symptoms after your procedure, you may want to eat soft foods, such as smoothies, soups, and mashed or pureed vegetables. Plain ice chips or popsicles made from fruit or vegetable juice may soothe your sore throat.

Drink lots of water. You can add water, juice, or a bland gravy or sauce to your food to soften it. If you experience coughing after eating, thickening your foods may help.

Using a low and slow cooking method can soften meat and vegetables, making them easier to eat. You can also use a food processor to puree harder foods. If you are having difficulty eating, consult with a dietician or your surgeon.

Best Long-Term Diet After a Thyroidectomy

While some people promote various types of “thyroid diets,” there is little scientific evidence to support the benefits of following a specific thyroid diet. Instead, follow a balanced whole-food diet low in simple carbohydrates and refined sugars, such as the one recommended in the general dietary guidelines for Americans

Build your diet around dark leafy greens, fresh seafood, lean meats, low-fat dairy or dairy alternatives, and low-sugar fruit. Limit added sugars and saturated fat to less than 10% of your daily calories.

Keep your sodium intake under 2,300 mg per day. Limit alcohol consumption to two or fewer drinks per day for men and one for women. Choose whole fruits over fruit juices or snacks.

Eat a variety of vegetables. Consume at least half of your grains as whole grains. Enjoy a variety of lean proteins or plant-based options, such as beans, legumes, seeds, and nuts.

Which Foods Should You Eliminate From Your Long-Term Diet After a Thyroidectomy?

Immediately after your surgery, you may want to avoid foods that are hard, spicy, acidic, scratchy, sticky, or fried. These foods can irritate your sore throat or be difficult to swallow.


Though some studies have linked foods that contain goitrogens, such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale, to thyroid conditions, these foods are generally safe unless consumed in excessive amounts. The health benefits outweigh the small risks associated with nutritious options, such as cruciferous vegetables. If you still have concerns, cooking these foods reduces goitrogen levels.


Soy products may interfere with some thyroid hormone replacement medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about potential interactions. If you consume soy products, don’t eat them close to the same time as you take your medication.

Other Drug Interactions

Avoid taking your thyroid medication at the same time as:

  • Walnuts
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Soybean flour
  • Iron supplements
  • Calcium supplements

Some antacids and ulcer medications can also interfere with your thyroid medication. Talk to your doctor about potential interactions.

Should You Change Your Long-Term Diet After a Thyroidectomy To Avoid Weight Gain?

The thyroid gland plays an important role in regulating metabolic functions that affect weight management. Because hypothyroidism causes weight gain in some patients, many people assume they will gain weight after a thyroidectomy.

Some patients experience weight gain after surgery, particularly if they had hyperthyroidism previously. However, most patients only gain a few pounds and many don’t gain weight at all. 

You may experience an adjustment period after your surgery as your doctor works with you to find the right medication and dosage to achieve the desired hormone levels. Your metabolism may fluctuate during this period, resulting in weight gain.

Some patients develop insulin resistance which can impact their weight. To reduce the impact of thyroidectomy on your weight:

  • Take hormone replacement medication as prescribed
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Reduce consumption of simple carbohydrates and refined sugars that may contribute to insulin resistance
  • Exercise daily

If you are struggling to control your weight after surgery, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may adjust your medications, provide diet and exercise recommendations, or refer you to a dietician.

Can You Boost Your Metabolism After a Thyroidectomy?

You may be able to make small changes to your metabolism by doing high-intensity interval training, strength training, and consuming adequate protein. Some studies suggest drinking green tea may also provide a small benefit. The best thing you can do for your metabolism after a thyroidectomy is to take your medication and follow your doctor’s recommendations for a healthy balanced diet and exercise regimen.

Can You Avoid Taking Thyroid Medication by Changing Your Diet?

If you have a total thyroidectomy, your body will no longer make thyroid hormone and without medication, you will experience hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain

While not everyone experiences all of these symptoms, you can’t avoid them by changing your diet. If you have a partial thyroidectomy, your body may continue to produce enough thyroid hormone to not need hormone therapy. Your doctor will test your hormone levels to determine whether medication is necessary.

Where Can You Get Help With Your Long-Term Diet After a Thyroidectomy?

Whether you are recovering from a thyroidectomy or researching what to expect after the procedure, the experienced staff at Arizona Premier Surgery can help. We provide high-quality compassionate care for communities throughout East Valley and Scottsdale, AZ. Contact us today with any questions you have about your long-term diet after a thyroidectomy.