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Stoma diet and nutrition

Eating is one of life’s great pleasures. Having a stoma should not change your enjoyment of food. Most people with a stoma are able to return to their normal diet soon after an operation. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that food tolerances can vary from person to person and some foods may affect your stoma negatively. 

General diet and nutrition advice

Unless specified otherwise by a healthcare professional, you should be able to eat what you like. However, it may be that you need to be more careful and adjust your eating habits slightly. Here are a few tips from the experts to ensure you can enjoy your food without affecting your stoma:

  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day 
  • Chew food thoroughly to avoid blockages 
  • Eat regularly rather than in one go 
  • You may want to introduce vitamins into your diet 
  • When trying new food, do so one at a time in small quantities so you can assess if it has an impact on your stoma

Avoiding blockages

The most important dietary concerns for the ostomate are preventing blockages. Some foods are more prone to obstructing stomas than others, to be clear that doesn’t mean that you can’t eat them, but it’s worth being aware of. 

Foods known to be stoma obstructive include:

  • Apple peel
  • Raw cabbage
  • Celery
  • Chinese vegetables
  • Corn
  • Whole kernels
  • Coconuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges
  • Nuts
  • Pineapple
  • Popcorn

Avoiding odours

Another key concern for ostomates is to avoid unpleasant odours that can occur when certain foods are consumed. Again, this doesn’t mean that you can’t eat them, you may wish to try them in small quantities in private though to see how your body reacts. 

Known odour producing foods include:

  • Asparagus
  • Baked beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Peanut butter
  • Certain vitamins
  • Strong cheese

There are also some foods that are known to reduce odour, including:

  • Yoghurt 
  • Cranberry juice
  • Parsley
  • Buttermilk
  • Orange juice
  • Tomato juice 
  • Peppermint oil

Avoiding gas

Excess gas can cause a stoma bag to balloon and become uncomfortable, whilst also causing some intestinal distress. Knowing which foods produce excess gas can be the key to managing your stoma and ensuring you don’t become bloated. 

Gas-producing foods include: 

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Beans
  • Soy
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Dairy products
  • Chewing gum
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Onions

Increased/loose stool

An increase in stool output can be more difficult to manage and means you may have to change your bag more regularly. Similarly, loose stool can make changing the bag more difficult. Again, there are certain foods that are known to increase output and contribute to looser stool. 

These foods include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Whole grains
  • Bran cereals
  • Cooked cabbage
  • Fresh fruits
  • Green leaves
  • Milk
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raw vegetables
  • Spices
  • Apples
  • Prune juice

However, there are some foods that can help to control problems with loose stool, including:

  • Apple sauce
  • Unripe bananas
  • Boiled rice
  • Peanut butter
  • Tapioca Toast
  • White bread
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Boiled rice
  • Weak tea
  • Marshmallows
  • Jelly babies

Constipation

Constipation is uncomfortable for everybody, but it can be a real issue for ostomates. There are a few foods that are known to provide relief when suffering from constipation, including:

  • Coffee
  • Warm/hot cooked fruits
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fruit juices
  • Water
  • Mild laxative

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