For those who have gone through any surgical procedure that alters the digestive system, following the correct diet after the procedure is important. Patients who have had a colostomy, where a portion of the large intestine is bypassed or removed, or an ileostomy, where the entire colon or anus is bypassed or removed, the proper diet following these procedures is necessary to ensure health and safe dietary practices. Finding proper information about your diet following an ostomy can be difficult, and sadly much of the literature is not well defined. However, the United Ostomy Association has several reputable sources on lifestyle, diet and living well following the procedures, although one should always seek the counsel of their doctor before making any such changes. Some of the tips suggested in these resources are summarized here.
1. Keep a diet journal
If you are feeling unwell after eating, keeping track of how you feel after you eat certain foods will help you isolate and identify which food you are not tolerating well after the surgery.
2. Chew your food well and thoroughly
Those with ostomy surgeries lose a certain amount of ability to digest food entirely, and food that is not chewed well can cause blockages, which are painful, and might cause hospitalization.
3. Take in food that is nutrient dense
Once again, as ostomy patients lose part of their ability to digest food, taking in food that is rich in nutrients ensures that your body is getting what it needs in vitamins and minerals. Try to avoid eating junk food, and instead opt for healthy, calorie and vitamin dense foods.
4. Stay hydrated
When you are not well hydrated, this can cause problems with digestion, blockages and overall health. You should drink plenty of water to keep everything moving and to avoid health complications brought on by dehydration.
5. Only try new foods slowly and one at a time.
The kinds of foods you tolerated before the ostomy surgery will not carry over into after-surgery diets. If you try several new foods at once and have a bad reaction, you won’t know which food caused it. Try new foods, or re-introduce foods slowly and one at a time, so that if you have a bad reaction, you will know which culprit caused it.
6. Remove the skin from a fruit or vegetable that gives you problems
Vegetable and fruit skins can be hard to digest even in healthy people. A patient with an ostomy might find this even more pronounced. If you are not tolerating certain foods well, if possible remove the skin, or try softening and mashing the food. If apples are not treating you well, try applesauce. This makes the food easier to digest overall.
7. Try not to eat right before bed
Eating right before bed can cause the stoma to be active when you are trying to sleep, which is uncomfortable and can negatively affect your sleep patterns.
You should always discuss any diet changes with your healthcare provider following a major, life altering surgery such as an ostomy surgery. Those who have had such surgeries can and do lead normal lives after a period of adjustment, but discovering which foods you can eat without problems can be an ongoing process that takes time and trial and error.