The summer months bring a variety of food options, helping us enjoy the hot weather with luscious lunches and al fresco dining. Not to mention the appetising aromas of barbeques and vibrant colours of seasonal fruits and vegetables can make food seem totally irresistible! For most people, tucking into a bowl of mouth-watering cold salad on a hot day is heaven but for those with a stoma, you may find yourself scrutinising each element of the salad wondering whether it will cause you pain and discomfort or if there is another way it could be eaten.
Rest assured, there are plenty of vegetables and fruits you can eat with a stoma but knowing which ones safe and which foods to avoid with a stoma bag, can be confusing. Fruits and vegetables are healthy and rich in nutrients and need to be part of our healthy and balanced diet, but it’s important to choose the ones which suit you. Try whizzing up fruits into a delicious and cooling summer smoothie, so you can still enjoy the flavours. You can even use vegetables for smoothies too! Blending or cooking vegetables into a soup or broth can also be delicious and who says the soup needs to be hot…. look at gazpacho!
It is important that you are aware of the type of stoma you have and how your diet might affect the output from your stoma. Ostomates are usually well versed in blockages and what foods are indigestible and should be avoided. Fibrous foods can be hard to digest and if they are not chewed thoroughly or are eaten in large quantities can cause blockages. So, for the first 6-8 weeks following your stoma surgery it is wise to avoid raw vegetables, salad, mushrooms, sweetcorn, fruit and vegetable skins, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, pips/pith. Your stoma nurse will guide you as to what you can eat and there is plenty of literature around to advise you too.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy those mouth-wateringly summery dishes over the next few months, including foods to thicken your stoma output and summer foods to avoid with a stoma bag.
Best summer foods to eat with a stoma: Summer BBQ foods
Who doesn’t love a BBQ? BBQ are a great way of getting together and enjoying outdoor foods. Burgers, sausages, and kebabs are easy food… and if you’re not a meat eater there are plenty of plant-based options too (but watch out for any nuts and beans). The great thing about BBQ food is that it is simplistic, and you can see exactly what you are eating. The meats or fish are usually very bland which is easier to digest but can be high in fat so take it easy and eat a small amount first to check you are ok and it doesn’t give you an upset stomach. The bread with the burgers and sausages is a great form of starchy food, especially for those ostomates with a looser output looking for foods to thicken their stoma output.
Vegetable kebabs are also delicious and can be a delightful rainbow of colours depending on the vegetables you choose. Make sure the vegetables are all peeled and cored before they are roasted… and they should be soft when ready to eat. If they have too much crunch, then simply pop them straight back on the BBQ until they soften further. Add some chunks of halloumi cheese which tastes fabulous in between the mouthfuls of vegetables.
Cucumber, tomatoes, and lettuce are salad vegetables which can cause a great deal of worry for ostomates. Try them individually first before braving a full salad. Peel the skin and use a teaspoon to de-seed the cucumber and likewise with the tomatoes. Or if you are keen to try lettuce, start with iceberg lettuce due to its high-water content. Avocadoes are quite fibrous, so again take it slowly with small amount first and see how you feel.
The key to vegetables, is to cook them until they are very soft. Peel the skins from sweet potatoes, core some red and yellow peppers, slice a courgette and roast them until they are soft in the oven with a drizzle of oil and garlic cloves for extra flavour. Add them to pasta or rice and top with some freshly steamed fish or chargrilled chicken for the protein. Rice and pasta are perfect starchy foods if you are experiencing loose stoma output.
Enjoy some warm toasted ciabatta with a drizzle of olive oil and rubbed with garlic. If you are a tomato lover, peel, core and de-seed tomatoes and add onto the ciabatta. Top with fresh basil and enjoy a little taste of Italian bruschetta.
Most fruits can be blended into a fruit smoothie and give you a huge vitamin burst. The key is to remember a thickening agent such as a banana or porridge oats as your smoothie base. Then add some of your favourite fruits such as red berries or for a different flavour try mango, melon, papaya. Then, add a splash of milk/coconut/almond/oat and some ice and whiz up for a cooling fruit smoothie.
Fruits can be bought fresh, or you can buy them already chopped and frozen which may last longer in your freezer. Watch out for those fruits with obvious pips such as cherries and those with gritty seeds such as blackberries and pomegranates, which can cause a few issues with digestion as they are insoluble fibres and result in stoma blockages.
Tip: Be careful with some fruits. Pineapple is a more fibrous fruit and may make your stoma more active.
Don’t limit your smoothies to just fruits. Be adventurous and try some vegetables too. Banana with spinach and avocado works well together. You may want to add a bit of natural yogurt and a drizzle of honey to sweeten it. Peanut butter will also help thicken your stoma output and give you a protein burst. Again, add some ice cubes for the cool taste.
Tip: Go easy with the fruit and vegetables, too much can make your output looser than normal as fruit and vegetables are high in fibre so can make your stoma more active.