In general, people with an ostomy can eat and drink what they want unless they have been given other guidance or instruction from their WOC nurse or healthcare provider. However, you may want to pay more attention to your diet before and immediately after ostomy surgery. Before your surgery, some food may be easier to digest than others, and right after surgery you may want to spend more time thinking about your food choices and how they affect your digestion and your stoma.
Right after surgery
You should follow your healthcare providers directions on what to eat immediately after surgery. In general. Foods should be added back to your diet gradually. As always, remember to chew your food thoroughly.
During the first 2-4 weeks
- Your body is still healing, so eating foods that are softer or easier to digest will allow your body to recover.
- You may feel a bit bloated, so try eating little and often at first.
- Bland foods can be good for a start.
- Chewing carefully and thoroughly is very important.
Weeks 4-6 after ostomy surgery
- It's normal to experience a decrease in appetite the first 4-6 weeks after an ostomy procedure.
- It may be necessary to supplement the diet with protein and energy drinks. They can be bought ready-made or made at home. You should always talk with your doctor before adding additional supplements
Is there anything I cannot eat?
There’s no reason to restrict yourself from certain foods unless you have been instructed to do so by your WOC nurse or healthcare provider. Even if you don't have any dietary restrictions, it’s good to know that different foods will have different effects on the output from your stoma. If there’s a particular kind of food that you’re unsure about, just try a small amount. If there are no problems, then go for it!
Don’t be afraid to try new foods - just be sensible. Try not to add too many new foods at once so you can understand how the foods affect your body and digestive system. You will probably find that certain foods produce more gas than others, and even though they are not bad for you, you may want to cut down on these foods. The same applies to chewing gum.
It may take a little trial-and-error to find a balanced diet that feels right for you. Some foods, especially high fiber foods, can cause a food blockage, where undigested parts of food can possibly block the bowel. Chewing thoroughly can help, but a food blockage can be serious. Read about food blockage here.
What about fruits and vegetables?
The recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables still stands when you have an ostomy! The skins of some fruits and vegetables can be really tough to digest, so it might be best to peel them to avoid any problems, especially potato skins and apple skins. You might you need to prepare your fruits and vegetables in new ways – try soups to get those vegetables in, or maybe try some fruit smoothies.
To help with digestion, allow vegetables to soften a bit during cooking or try mashing up some of those root vegetables or try mashing some of those root vegetables.
If an accident occurs
One bad experience with a food choice shouldn't make it necessary for you to cut that food entirely of your diet. Pay attention to trends and how the same or similar foods effect your body. If you have the same reaction to a food multiple times, it may be time to remove it from your diet.
Just remember: everyone has different reactions, so what works for one may not work for one other.