With my colostomy, I soon found that my diet had to change slightly. I also learned what to expect when I consume certain foods and drinks.
Is there really a colostomy diet or a special nutritional regime for colostomy patients? This is a question that most new ostomates ask and are sometimes concerned about.
If you’ve just had a colostomy and wonder if you can still enjoy your favourite foods and drinks, as an ex-patient, I can say yes and no.
Yes, because there are a few simple nutritional rules that you can follow that will make the digestion of what you consume, and its elimination as waste, easy on your stoma and general condition. However, I will also say no, because, with a colostomy, there doesn’t have to be a change in your regular diet, perhaps what you will need to is to modify it.
Basically, what it boils down to is that it is more about what to expect when you eat certain foods, as opposed to whether a certain food is good for your condition, or not. It doesn’t matter whether you had a permanent or reversible procedure; what you can eat in the two instances remains the same.
Before your discharge from the hospital, your Stoma Nurse will have instructed you on how to use ostomy supplies that will now become a part of your everyday life and there would have been mention of your nutritional diet and how best to balance it.
What I Recommend As An Ex-Colostomy Patient
As an ostomate, whatever you drink or eat must be tolerable to your digestive system, especially in the first few weeks after surgery but after that initial period, you can eat whatever you've been eating pre-surgery, but you may have to take certain foods and drinks in moderation.
Foods for colostomy patients must be balanced, just as it should have been before your operation. For instance, if you were a junk foodie in the past, you will have to reduce its consumption drastically; same as it applies to people without a condition.
However, as in everyday life, every individual has his or her own favourite foods and this applies to stoma patients as well.
This is not to say that there won't be a few that demand a special nutritional plan. The reason for surgery in the first place, must be considered and a special diet may be necessary because of this, and not just because you had a colostomy. In such cases, diet plans can be individualised and will depend on other factors, including other health challenges if any, weight, lifestyle, and age.
Having said that, the important recommendations I can give you in terms of diet, nutrition, and eating habits are quite simple to follow:
Food consumption: Consume smaller meal portions every day. Eating four to six smaller meals a day is much more beneficial in that it allows for improved absorption of the necessary nutrients in the foods, and it also ensures that the elimination of waste is easy and effortless.
Fibre intake: Reduce your fibre intake. Wheat products like oats, maize, and wholegrain breakfast cereals, all high in fibre, must be taken in moderation. Eliminating waste resulting from the consumption of excessive fibre is hard on the stoma, especially in the early weeks following surgery. Hard stool will be too stressful on a recovering bowel. It is best to wait until your Stoma Nurse or the doctor says it is okay to consume fibrous foods and vegetables. In my case, I was off such foods for the first six weeks.
Mastication: Chew your food thoroughly and completely, whether it is tender meat, chicken, fish, raw carrots, nuts, etc... Mastication must be complete. You don’t want your stoma "popping" out corn kernels! Thorough chewing is the most important aspect of a post colostomy surgery diet. It has been said that the recommended number of times that food must be chewed before swallowing is not less than 25 times. And this especially applies to beef. Proper mouth-grinding of food allows for better absorption and easy digestion, making waste elimination easy on the stoma.
J Pouch diet: This ostomy diet which consists of soft foods are great and gentle on the stomach. They include highly nutritional smoothies, blended juices, thick soups, broths with chunks of vegetables, and slowly cooked menus. These digest faster, easier and better and makes waste elimination virtually stress-free for your stoma.
What to avoid: If you can, try to avoid fruits, drinks or foods with high acidic content. If on the other hand, you cannot, take them in moderation or keep its consumption to the barest minimum. However, moderation is key.
Fluids: To avoid the risk of dehydration, take a minimum of seven glasses of water a day. If you love fruit juices, you can substitute a couple of glasses of water with non-acidic fruit juices. The colon absorbs water in the body and when it is undergoing a healing process, though it may not be functional because of your colostomy, additional water intake is essential.
Beef and poultry: Meat, chicken and other animal products must be cooked tender. Cut them into small pieces before popping them into your mouth because larger tougher pieces may clog the stoma. Some colostomy patients have had to return to the hospital for complications arising from an obstructed stoma and you don't want that to happen to you.
Colostomy Nutrition Plan: A Helpful Guide
You can draw up a menu and stick it on a pin-up board to help you keep track of what you eat. You can also check the colostomy nutritional guide below. It can help plan what to eat, how much of it is good for you, and how each type of food works and reacts in your body.
You should detect your own pattern a few weeks after surgery and know what may be good or bad for your stoma. By that time, you will have had a good idea of the timing of your bowel movements as well. From my experience, I found that food or drink intake triggers off my stoma and waste starts to spew into my colostomy bag.
A colostomy diet plan must, however, be seen only as a guide that will help you manage and cope with the challenges of living with a stoma. Following these simple rules will ensure that you'll be fine.
- Eat and drink moderately.
- There are no special foods to eat or not.
- It’s more about the types of foods and drinks to avoid or take in moderation.
- Carbonated drinks will cause colostomy bag ballooning, a gas build-up.
- Be content with just half a glass of fizzy drinks.
- Eat steak sparingly. It can cause constipation which puts a strain on your stoma.
- Eating healthy will help patients of a temporary colostomy heal faster.
J Pouch Diet, a Colostomy Nutrition
When the colon and rectum are surgically removed, a pouch or reservoir must be created for the excretion of stool; its exit from the body. This surgically created reservoir in the shape of the letter ‘J’, is an option for selected patients.
The term ‘J Pouch diet’ is another name used to describe a colostomy diet and is highly recommended and approved by the UOAA (United Ostomy Associations of America), a member of the International Ostomy Association and a national organisation that makes provision for information, support, and advocacy for colostomy patients and their carers.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2010 Alobeda
Comments are Welcome
Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on June 29, 2018:
You can start eating salads as soon as you wish Sandra.
I started eating salads a couple of weeks after returning home from the hospital. However, remember to chew very well before swallowing.
Sandra nutter on June 27, 2018:
When to start eating salads...lettuce??