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Avoiding common dietary problems when you have a stoma

All types of food and drink will affect each person differently, whether you have a stoma or not.

Healthy diet for Ostomates

Therefore, it is important to note down any trends that you notice, particularly in the months after your stoma surgery.  The list below is not exhaustive by any means, however it will serve as a guide to help you if you are experiencing any of these common dietary problems.

1. Wind / flatulence (Colostomates & Ileostomates)

Excess wind can be problematic as it causes the pouch to ‘balloon’. Although most pouches contain filters to remove gas, you may want to try to avoid it in the first instance. The following are considered common foods for causing gas:

  • vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, onions, garlic and brussel sprouts
  • fish
  • baked beans
  • beer and other fizzy drinks
  • chewing gum
  • eggs
  • spicy foods


Prevent wind by:

  • Drinking peppermint tea.
  • Eating yoghurt or drinking yoghurt drinks.
  • Eating at regular intervals as advised.

2. Constipation (Colostomates)

Constipation may occur as a result of medication or not drinking enough fluids. If you are suffering from constipation it may be worthwhile to try the following:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of fluids - water is best.
  • Drink fruit juice or prune juice.
  • Increase the amount of wholegrain and/or bran in your diet.


3. Odour (All Ostomates)

If the pouch is applied correctly, you should not experience any odour until you come to empty your pouch.  However, certain foods can cause increased odour:

  • baked beans
  • fish
  • spicy foods
  • vegetables such as broccoli, onions, garlic, asparagus and brussel sprouts
  • eggs
  • some cheeses


Foods that might help to alleviate this problem include:

  • buttermilk
  • yoghurt
  • peppermint tea
  • parsley

If you do experience odour when you are not changing your pouch, this could indicate pouch leakage. If this is the case, change your bag immediately.

4. Diarrhoea (Ileostomates & Colostomates)

Diarrhoea can be a sign that your body is having trouble digesting food.  If this is the case, you should try to remove fibre from your diet and instead eat foods that thicken your stool.

Foods that may lead to diarrhoea include:

  • spicy foods
  • cabbage and other green vegetables
  • fruit (except bananas)
  • alcohol
  • prunes or prune juice and citrus fruit juices


Foods that might help to solve this problem:

  • boiled milk
  • very ripe bananas
  • cheese
  • rice / noodles / pasta
  • yoghurt
  • marshmallows
  • jelly / jelly babies

5. Discoloured urine (Urostomates)

If your urine is dark, this is generally an indication that you are dehydrated and you need to drink more fluids.  Foods such as radishes, fish, beetroot, spinach and spices may cause your urine to have an unusual odour and colour but this isn’t anything to worry about. Some medications can also affect the colour andn odour of urine.  Foods that can help reduce urinary odours include yoghurt and buttermilk.

6. Blockages (Ileostomates)

As the ileum is quite narrow, foods which are high in fibre can cause blockages after surgery. As a result your output will lessen or even stop, while you experience pain and nausea. If you chew your food well and drink lots of fluids this should help to avoid this risk.

Foods that may cause blockages include:

  • coconut
  • celery
  • popcorn
  • dried fruits
  • nuts
  • coleslaw
  • vegetable skins
  • peas

For more dietary advice please download our Diet booklet, written especially for ostomates.