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The ostomates guide to Christmas dinner

Christmas is here again and with it comes fun and festivities – including the most eagerly anticipated meal of the year – Christmas dinner. Complete with succulent turkey, stuffing, a delicious array of roasted veggies and of course, pigs in blankets, this festive feast is loved by millions.

Although Christmas dinner brings excitement for many, certain foods can pose a challenge for ostomates. Some foods may fill you with worry, but having a stoma bag shouldn’t stop any Christmas celebrations.

By making a few tweaks and adjustments to your food choices, you can avoid issues with blockages or loose output and leaks, so follow our guide to enjoying Christmas and eating safely over the festive season.

Decide what to eat and drink in advance

If you’re eating at home for Christmas, you can plan the food and have more control over it. If this isn’t an option, let family and friends know what foods you need to avoid with your stoma so there are no hidden surprises.

You may also find yourself visiting places where you haven’t visited before or with people you don’t know that well, so try to plan ahead and let people know your dietary requirements in advance.

No matter where your plans take you this festive season – including visiting Christmas markets –  make sure with all the food you eat, to chew it well, it all helps with digestion.

Foods to watch out for:

  • Sprouts & cabbage – can be wind inducing
  • Onions – make sure they are cooked well and softened
  • Stuffing – watch out for chestnuts, fruit and onions
  • Dried fruit – has the potential to upset your bowels so watch out for mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.
  • Chocolate – too much can have a laxative effect
  • Nuts – can easily to block your stoma, especially an ileostomy
  • Skins of fruits such as apples and satsumas – these can be hard to digest and might cause blockages

Food which will be your friend:

  • 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

Time for a tipple, it’s Christmas!

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!

Try to 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
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.

For more stoma care advice and information, check out our latest stoma care blogs or visit our handy advice centre.

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