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Enjoying the festive period as an ostomate – diet, alcohol and dealing with social events with a stoma

Christmas is soon upon us and we’re all ready for the festivities to begin.

December brings food indulgence and an array of foods which may fill you will worry, but having a stoma bag shouldn’t stop any Christmas celebrations. You may also find yourself visiting places where you haven’t visited before or with people you don’t know that well, so try and plan ahead and let people know your dietary requirements in advance.

Be kind to yourself and listen to your body, if you are tired and feeling stressed, take a rest and enjoy some festive films instead!

Preparation is key, so here are some tips to help you through this festive time…

Stoma supplies over Christmas

Make sure you plan ahead by contacting your stoma care home delivery company, so that an order can be placed for all your stoma equipment and delivered before Christmas. You may need a slightly larger order than usual to get you through until the New Year. Make sure you have additional supplies for any emergencies!

Plan your day trips and visits

Knowing where you are going and when, will help you to feel in control of the day. Make sure you take some spare stoma bag equipment with you which you can carry with you or leave in the car, for stoma changes or emergencies when you are out and about. Make sure you have enough stoma bags for a day out, so you never find yourself without. Take your radar key or hidden disability lanyard with you if you’re visiting any outdoor places, so that you don’t have to wait in long queues for the toilets.

Watch out for too many fizzy drinks

As much as we all love the sound of a prosecco cork popping and a full glass of fizz raised for a family toast, try to set yourself an amount and stick to it. Not only is alcohol a diuretic, which means it promotes the production of urine and has the effect of dehydrating anyone consuming it, but the bubbles may also give you indigestion, a lot of unwanted wind from your stoma, resulting in bloating and ballooning of your stoma bag. Don’t forget the bubbles in beers/lagers and soft drinks as well.

Tip: Stirring fizzy drinks with a metal spoon and leaving it in the glass for a few minutes can reduce the amount of bubbles and many ostomates swear by this trick.

Decide what to eat and drink in advance

If you are at home for Christmas, you can plan the food and have more control over it. If this is not an option, let family and friends know what foods you need to avoid with your stoma so there are no hidden surprises. Make sure with all the food you eat, to chew it well, it all helps with digestion.

Foods for ostomates to watch out for

Sprouts and cabbage – wind inducing

Dried fruit – has the potential to upset your bowels so watch out for   mince pies, Christmas cake & Christmas pudding.

Chocolate – can have a laxative effect

Nuts – can easily to block your stoma, especially if you have an ileostomy.

For more advice on foods to avoid, visit our stoma diet and nutrition advice.

Christmas foods to become friendly with

Marshmallows – have a thickening effect for your stoma output

Cheese – there is always plenty of cheese about at Christmas and it can also have a thickening effect for your output

Mint – can really help with odour control

Herbal teas – can be refreshing and are another option for rehydration

Keep hydrated

Make sure you keep hydrated throughout the Christmas period, it is easy to forget with all the excitement going on. Keep sipping water, squashes and fruit teas throughout the day and evening. For every alcoholic drink you have, make sure you drink a non-alcoholic drink with it.

Signs of dehydration are: feeling thirsty, a dry mouth, decreased urine output, darker coloured urine, dizziness and grogginess.

To prevent the beginnings of dehydration, try sipping flat cola and eat bag of salted crisps, as both will help replace any lost salts and sugars your body needs (not for diabetics). If you are feeling more dehydrated, solutions such as Dioralyte are available at your local chemist and taken on a short term basis can help with your symptoms. For more severe cases of dehydration speak with your stoma care nurse or GP.

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