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SEARCH ‘A Guide To Living With A Stoma’
100% accuracy at time of writing cannot be guaranteed. A listing in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and does not mean it is an endorsement. All companies listed are tried at the reader’s own risk. All information provided is intended as a supplement to any professional help already
given. Before acting on suggestions from anyone, ostomates are advised to check with a doctor or stoma care nurse that the course of action is suitable
for them. Whilst every care is taken, the author will not be held responsible.
The output from a stoma may become looser than normal for a number of reasons. It may be a
tummy bug, something an ostomate has eaten or the side effects of a medicine being taken.
Beer, dark chocolate, citrus fruits, green vegetables, onions, prunes, salad and spices are all foods
that may bring on a bout of diarrhoea, if consumed in sufficient quantities. Avoiding these foods for a few days, especially fruit and vegetables, may help. Eating white bread, jelly cubes, jelly sweets,
pasta, potatoes and rice can also thicken the output.
However, bear in mind, that diarrhoea may not necessarily be caused by diet -
emotional stress can often cause this condition.
Dehydration can happen as a result of diarrhoea, as the body loses large amounts of fluids and salt. Therefore, do not stop drinking -
lost. A rule of thumb is that if urine is a pale straw colour, an ostomate is well hydrated. However, if
it is a darker yellow or brown, fluid intake needs to be increased.
Also to replace the lost fluid, sugars and salts, rehydration powders can be useful. These dissolve
easily in water, and can be purchased from supermarkets or chemists. Commercial isotonic sports drinks, which contain varying amounts of salts and sugars, could help with combating dehydration.
If the diarrhoea is regular, it may be necessary to look in more detail, and try to establish what foods may be causing the problem. Sometimes, ostomates are able to pinpoint certain foods by keeping a food and bowel diary. In this way, certain foods may be linked to a loose bowel motion. The
ostomate can then decide to avoid eating this food, or eat this food in smaller quantities.
If suffering from a prolonged bout of diarrhoea, it can be beneficial to switch to a drainable pouch,
if possible, and to use the largest size available.
If the problem persists, seek advice from a doctor.
● Eat at regular times in a relaxed atmosphere. Eat small, sensible portions,
and eat little and often. A stoma works best if three or four regular meals
are eaten each day.
● It is always better to sit down to eat. Never grab snacks, eat standing up or
in a hurry.
● Chew food thoroughly, especially if you have an ileostomy, as this will help to
prevent any food blockage. Eat slowly and try not to gulp in air when
● Try new foods, one at a time, in small quantities. Therefore, if there is a
problem, you will have an idea what caused it. Then just eliminate that
particular food for a while, and then try again.
● Drink plenty of fluids daily, (6-
fluids may be lost more than normal through a stoma.
● Take care when eating some foods, because they are not completely
digestible and could cause a blockage. Such foods are celery, Chinese
vegetables, coconut, coleslaw, mushrooms, nuts, peas, popcorn, raisins and
other dried fruits, raw pineapple, relishes, salad greens, seeds and vegetable
● Avoid food that has been standing for a long period of time, especially when
abroad on holiday in hot climates.
● Natural yogurt can help to neutralise the bacteria in the gut, and therefore,
reduce excessive wind.
Everyone passes wind, but for ostomates, this can be inconvenient or embarrassing, as they have no control over it. It is very much an individual problem, i.e. certain foods that cause one person to have wind may be perfectly acceptable to another.
To avoid wind problems, some ostomates find it helpful not to eat and drink at the same time, but to wait for a drink until they have finished eating.
When eating, avoid talking. Swallowing too much air can cause excess wind.
Eat regularly. Missing meals or rushed eating may be a cause.
Avoid chewing gum. Many ostomates do not realise that if gum is chewed, a lot of air is swallowed, which once again can cause excess wind.
Limit foods and drinks that are known to produce wind to a minimum, e.g. alcohol, asparagus, baked beans, beer, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cheese, cucumber, eggs, fish, fizzy
drinks, fruit, garlic, nuts, onions, peas and sweet corn. It will vary from person to person, but there
is no need to avoid these foods, just eat small amounts and chew them well.
A quick guide is that vegetables and salad produce, which are grown above the ground, normally produce more gas than those which are grown below the ground.
Use common sense -
a salad on the same day.
Fizzy drinks can cause excess wind. Pour into a glass/cup and leave to stand for ten minutes before drinking, i.e. let the carbonated fizz settle before having the drink. Also, try to avoid fizzy drinks while eating and for about an hour after the meal.
Some ostomates find that taking pro-
For some stoma patients, adding peppermint essence to hot water and sipping slowly can reduce
wind. Also using peppermint (cordial, mints or tea), fennel (as a vegetable, tablets or tea) or
charcoal (biscuits or tablets) may help.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation. Gassy drinks such as lager and beer can cause wind, especially if drunk on an empty stomach.
If the wind problem is regular, it may be necessary to look in more detail, and try to establish what foods may be causing the problem. Sometimes, ostomates are able to pinpoint certain foods by
keeping a food diary. In this way, certain foods may be linked to an odour problem. The ostomate
can then decide to avoid eating this food, or eat this food in smaller quantities.
There are a number of causes, which may bring about constipation. Not drinking enough fluid or eating insufficient fibre may contribute. Lack of exercise or the side effects of some medication may also be the reason.
To avoid constipation -
There are other foods, which may help this problem. Eat more fruit and vegetables, e.g. figs, grapes, papaya, pears, prunes and spinach. Boiled rice and eggs can cause motions to set hard.
Ensure that food is chewed properly, as not doing so can firm things up. If possible, try a little gentle exercise.
If the stoma has not acted for 72 hours, laxatives may be required.
If the problem persists, seek advice from a doctor.
After surgery, ostomates worry about their diet, but eventually they realise that there are very few restrictions as to what they can and cannot eat. Dietary requirements are a very individual matter, and will depend on an ostomate’s own body. Everyone is unique -
A stoma should not change your enjoyment of food. The most important dietary concerns for ostomates are preventing blockage, and avoiding foods that produce unpleasant odours, gas or excess stool. However, many stoma patients eat a very varied diet, which is important, leaving out the foods which upset them as individuals.
Controlling weight is always important, so it is beneficial not to overeat.
The following are tips about a few common foods to avoid. However, if there are any dietary concerns, a doctor or nurse should be consulted.
A few golden rules may help:
There is a vast amount of information available about dietary requirements in general. For stoma patients, further detailed information, Ostomates Nutrition Guide, can be found at the following website:
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