Visit Our Coronavirus (COVID-19)  Resource Section ⇒ X
Way to Grow Header

Good Nutrition for Your Transplant

(757) 668-7000

Good nutrition is important for a successful transplant. You have special nutrition needs to help take care of your new organ. For the first few weeks after transplant surgery it is important to provide your body with the right nutrients to encourage healing.


  1. Eat foods HIGH in protein for several weeks after transplant surgery to help heal and fight infection.
  2. Eat foods LOW in salt and sodium to help control your blood pressure and prevent fluid retention.
  3. Eat food LOW in sugar to control blood sugar and weight and to reduce swelling.
  4. Eat foods LOW in fat and cholesterol to help control blood cholesterol and weight.
  5. INCREASE exercise and activity to help control weight.
  6. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice must be AVOIDED.




The Prednisone you take to prevent rejection also causes your body to lose protein. You need extra protein after your transplant to help heal, fight infection and gain back any weight you may have lost prior to the transplant. Prednisone also increases your blood sugar so it is important to limit sugar and carbohydrates.

  1. Eat a high-protein food with each meal: meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs.
  2. Eat high-protein snacks between meals when appetite is poor: Sandwiches, cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, milkshakes.
  3. Limit sugar sweetened beverages, desserts, and eat small portions of starchy foods.


Your nutrition needs change for a few weeks after your transplant. Once you have reached maintenance levels of Prednisone, you do not need as much protein and calories. However, Prednisone may cause your appetite to increase and you may want to eat more than you should.

  1. Eat 3 meals each day and do not skip meals. Eat a variety of foods.
  2. Choose low-calorie snacks such as plain popcorn, unsalted pretzels or crackers, fruit, raw vegetables and low-fat yogurt.
  3. Reduce portion sizes. A standard serving size is ½ cup.
  4. Limit fats and sweets.
  5. Be more active.


Being more active will help control your weight, increase your strength, and help you reduce stress.

  1. Choose an activity you enjoy.
  2. Get a friend to exercise with you to make it more fun.
  3. Start slowly and gradually work up to 30-40 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week.


Prednisone and Cyclosporine can make you hold fluid and swell. Eating a lot of salty foods may cause more swelling.

  1. Do NOT use salt in cooking or at the table.
  2. Do NOT eat high-sodium foods: -processed meats and cheeses -canned soups and vegetables -salted crackers, potato chips, pretzels -fast foods and convenience foods -seasoning salts (garlic salt, onion salt, Accent)
  3. Use herbs and spices to flavor foods.
  4. Ask your physician before using a salt substitute.


Transplant patients are at risk for having high blood sugars because of Prednisone and Cyclosporine. Eating a lot of sweets may increase your blood sugar even more and cause unwanted weight gain.

  1. Drink SUGAR-FREE beverages (diet sodas, Crystal Light, sugar-free Kool-Aid). Limit the amount of juices to 8 oz. per day.
  2. Do NOT use sugar. Use a sugar substitute such as Equal, Splenda, or Sweet-n-Low.
  3. Limit desserts and sweets such as candy, cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, sherbert, regular Jello and pudding, syrup, honey, jelly, fruit punch, Popsicles and sugar cereals. Choose SUGAR-FREE items instead.


If you eat a variety of food from all of the food groups, you will probably get all of the vitamins and minerals that you need. Consult your physician before starting any supplements.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 06/2018

(757) 668-7000