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Top tips for managing your diet

Eating a varied and balanced diet is vital for those living with a stoma. Read our top tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Balanced Diet

Everyone reacts differently to certain foods, regardless of whether or not they have a stoma. For you, the best option is to have a varied diet where all food groups are taken in moderation to aid recovery and good health. Combined with exercise, this is the best way to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

After surgery it is important to resume a healthy diet to promote healing and regain any weight that may have been lost previously. However, while recovering, you may not have a great appetite so the following guidance may help:

Food management after surgery:

Daily Food Management:

  • Eat small meals more frequently (5-6 per day).
  • Where possible start off with plain foods.
  • Foods rich in protein such as meat and dairy products are recommended for healing.
  • Chew food thoroughly to aid digestion. After surgery some post-operative swelling may exist in the bowel, causing the bowel to narrow, making some foods quite difficult to digest.
  • Reintroduce your favourite foods slowly, just incase your stoma may react with something.
  • Eat 3-4 meals per day, at regular times.
  • Drink plenty of fluids each day. It is advisable to drink around 2 litres of fluids per day to hydrate the body. Whilst water is preferable, you can also include tea and coffee (although they can be dehydrating).
  • Try to avoid eating late at night as this can make your pouch fill up quickly and interrupt sleep and you will then need to empty it.
  • Eat a varied diet, spread across all food groups such as:
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Protein rich foods
  • Foods classed as carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes.


Hints & Tips:

  • You are advised not to eat and drink at the same time, as this may cause wind.
  • If you think a particular food is causing you problems, try cutting it out of your diet and then reintroduce it in small quantities at a later date.
  • You can still have an alcoholic drink, as long as it doesn’t interfere with any medication you are taking. It is advisable to speak to your stoma nurse if you have any concerns about this. However, it is best to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol as it can leave you dehydrated.
  • Chewing your food thoroughly avoids blockages (with ileostomates) and also helps your stoma deal with what is going to pass through it.
  • Some fruits can cause an increase in pouch output. This includes fruits with stones such as mangoes, plums, apricots, etc.
  • Bananas are known to slow down and thicken output.

After surgery, the way in which your body digests medicines may be affected. For this reason it is advisable that you review your medicines with your stoma care nurse.