In general, people with an ostomy can eat and drink what they want unless the surgeon or ostomy therapist has given counter-advice. But as before the surgery some food may be easier to digest than others – and right after surgery it may be helpful to pay some extra attention to the signals from your body.
Right after surgery
New research shows that the sooner you eat real food after surgery, the sooner the intestinal system will function again. And always remember to chew your food thoroughly.
During the first 2-4 weeks
- Your body is still healing, and 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.
- Quite bland foods can be good for a start.
- Chewing carefully is very important.
Week 4-6 after ostomy surgery
- Often there is a reduction in appetite the first 4-6 weeks after an ostomy procedure.
- It can be necessary to supplement the diet with protein and energy drinks. They can be bought at the pharmacy or made from scratch.
Is there something I cannot eat?
There’s no reason to restrict yourself from certain foods, but it’s good to know that different food 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 scared of trying new foods, but just be sensible. 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 will only take a little trial-and-error to find a balanced diet that feels right for you. Some foods, especially high fibre foods, can cause a food blockage, where undigested parts of food block the bowel. Chewing well can help, but a food blockage can be serious. Read about food blockage here.
How about fruit and vegetables?
You can still get your five-a-day! The skins of some fruits and vegetables are really tough, so it might be best to peel them to avoid any problems, especially potato skins and apple skins. And maybe you need to prepare your fruit and vegetables in new ways – try soups to get those vegetables in, or maybe try some fruit smoothies.
Allowing vegetables to soften a bit during cooking can also help, or try mashing some of those root vegetables.
If an accident occurs
One bad experience should not lead to you never eating that one thing again. Only if it happens repetitively you should consider taking the food out of your diet.
And remember; everyone has different reactions, so what works for one may not work for one other.