If you’ve had an ileostomy, you may have questions about the type of foods you should eat.
While there are some general guidelines, your diet depends in large part on how much of your small intestine was removed and how much time it has had to adapt to the ileostomy. In addition, the type of ileostomy you’ve had will play a role in your diet. If have a continent ileostomy (no appliance) your diet will differ from someone who has had an incontinent ileostomy and must use an appliance.
Here are some tips for general reference. If you have specific questions, please consult your ileostomy clinic for information specific to your case.
1. For about a month after surgery, you’ll be advised to eat a diet low in roughage. This will give the intestine time to heal and will prevent blockage due to swelling. Roughage includes foods with whole grains, raw vegetables and fresh fruit. This is a temporary limitation and your ileostomy clinic will advise you when you can reintroduce roughage to your diet.
2. Maintain a regular eating schedule, meaning that you eat at the same time every day. Eat slower and chew your food well. Refrain from skipping meals or overeating. Doing so will help your intestine digest and absorb food. Gas will decrease and your regularity will improve.
3. Over time, you can return to a more normal diet and will learn which foods cause constipation, which foods act like as a laxative and which foods cause gas or odor. This situation will vary between individuals and depend on the length of small intestine that remains.
4. If your stool becomes very thick (constipated), dietary changes can help. Grape juice, apple juice and prune juice serve to thin stool. Don’t overeat foods that cause constipation. For many people, these include apples, bananas, cheese, potatoes, pasta, rice and peanut butter.
5. Stay hydrated by drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Diluted electrolyte beverages, such Gatorade or Powerade are good immediately following surgery and during very hot weather. If you eat a lot of whole grain bread, your need for liquids may also increase.
Your regularity will depend on many factors and will vary largely from person to person. Remember, if you’re constipated, pay close attention to the balance of constipating foods to the amount of beverages you drink. If lifestyle changes don’t help, consult your ileostomy clinic, your gastroenterologist or a dietitian.