Ostomy Diet: What to Eat in the First Six Weeks (w/ video)

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I was fortunate to have received quite a bit of information about what foods to eat (and avoid) following my ileostomy surgery. The information was quite important because it was aimed to not only prevent dehydration but also to avoid potential blockages.

Because our stoma swells up after surgery, we can’t eat meals that would be hard to pass through that swollen stoma.

Knowing how to reduce the risk of blockages is important (saving you a trip from the ER!).

Disclaimer: Your doctor or stoma nurse should be able to provide recommendations during this initial healing period. The usual time on this post-op diet is 6 weeks, but your surgeon may require you to be on it longer (or shorter) depending on your progress. This post focuses on ileostomy post-operative care based on my own experience. Many of the foods and suggestions that are given would apply to colostomies too.

Video

Dietary Goals for the First 6 Weeks

  • Maintain adequate hydration and electrolyte balance.
  • Avoid foods that are likely to cause blockages. These are often high-fiber or high-residue foods.
  • Avoid food/beverages that increase output too much.
  • Learn to chew! Practice mindful eating.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Keep nutrition high. Vitamins, minerals, and protein will help you heal.
  • Eat enough to maintain a healthy weight (or to increase it if you’re underweight).
Post Ileostomy diet goals
Feel free to share this graphic on social media!

Food to Eat and Avoid

Here’s a list of common foods that are deemed “safe” to eat following surgery, as well as common foods that should be avoided during the healing phase. I’ve compiled this list from various sources, but I’ve tailored it in a way that substitutes animal products; this means that anyone will be able to make use if this list.


Ostomy Beverages

Beverages

Beverages:

  • When it comes to avoiding blockages, just about every beverage is “safe”.
  • A guide to keeping hydrated can be found HERE.

Beverages to AVOID:

  • Some drinks may increase output (alcohol, certain fruit juices, coffee, cola, etc.) or produce more gas (carbonated drinks). Keep track of the ones that do, and avoid them.
  • Alcohol should be avoided during this period, not only to help avoid dehydration but also because you may be taking pain meds which may interact negatively with alcoholic beverages.


Ostomy grains

Grains

Grain products to INCLUDE:

  • Bread, including pita bread, flatbread, and wraps
  • Pasta, noodles, vermicelli, couscous
  • White rice
  • Cereal (not whole grain), including oatmeal.
  • Cookies, oatmeal cookies
  • Crackers

Grain products to AVOID:

  • Any products that have whole grains, seeds, dried fruit, bran or added fiber.
  • Brown and wild rice


Ostomy fruits and veg

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables to INCLUDE:

  • Vegetable juice (like V8) are excellent. Carrot juice and tomato juice on their own are great too.
  • Apple sauce, well-cooked apples (without the skin).
  • Canned fruits and veg (I found canned peaches, canned carrots, canned green beans and canned beets worked really well).
  • Most smooth baby food (don’t laugh, this one can help a lot!).
  • Bananas, plantains.
  • Cooked veg are usually fine as long as they are soft (no skins, no seeds).
  • Tomato sauce (without seeds).
  • Potatoes without the skin (mashed, boiled, microwaved, steamed, baked).
  • Sweet potatoes (without skin) and squash.
  • Soups made from blended veg or broths.
  • Avocados. Great to add over potatoes or as a spread.
  • Fruit jelly.

Fruits and vegetables to AVOID:

Generally speaking, harder to digest fruits and veg are to be avoided during this stage:

  • Asparagus, raw beans, raw carrots, broccoli, cabbage (incl. sauerkraut, tomatoes, celery, etc.)
  • Corn and corn products.
  • Mushrooms (all types, even if they are canned)
  • Grapes, whole apple, pineapple, whole mango, etc.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Fruit jam (with seeds).
  • Greens (spinach, lettuce, bok choy, kale).
  • Skins of fruits and vegetables.
  • Seeds in fruits and vegetables.
  • Coconuts (even shredded).

Ostomy non-dairy product

Non-Dairy Products

Dairy alternatives:

  • Non-dairy milk (soy, almond, hemp, coconut, rice, etc.).
  • Non-dairy yogurt.
  • Non-dairy cheese.
  • Sorbet or non-dairy ice cream.
Avoid any of these products if they have fruit pieces in them (i.e. in yogurt).


Ostomy protein rich foods

Protein-Rich Foods

Protein-rich foods to INCLUDE:

  • Tofu.
  • Seitan (wheat gluten); ease into this one if you haven’t had it before.
  • Most mock meat products are safe, high in protein, fortified with vitamins and minerals and taste great.
  • Smooth nut and seed butter (almond, peanut, sunflower seed, cashew, etc.).
  • Hummus (avoid whole chickpeas).
  • Many of the non-dairy products are high in protein.

Protein-rich foods to AVOID:

  • Chunky nut/seed butter, whole nuts, and seeds.
  • Legumes including Adzuki beans, black beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, whole soybeans (including edamame).
  • Tempeh.


Ostomy fats and oils

Fats and Oils

While these are usually foods to avoid for optimal health, they can be a source of much-needed calories during recovery and can help make bland foods more palatable.

  • Vegan margarine.
  • Vegan mayo.
  • Oils are considered “safe” for new ileostomates, but olive and flax oil are the healthiest of the bunch.
  • Coconut oil can be used to cook with, or as a spread on bread.

Ostomy other foods and supplements

Other Foods and Supplements

Other foods and supplements that may be INCLUDED:

  • Protein powder may offer some benefits if you aren’t able to eat enough during the day. For my recovery, I went with THIS product.
  • Your doctor may recommend a multivitamin during the recovery phase; when choosing one, be sure that it’s not a slow-release version, or it may pass through your system without being fully absorbed. More info HERE.
  • Most condiments, like ketchup, vinegar or mustard are safe.
  • While candies are generally safe, they are empty calories.
  • Potato chips are usually well tolerated and can provide both sodium and calories, but will also help slow down your output.

Other foods and supplements to AVOID:

  • Avoid condiments and garnishes with seeds or chunks (certain mustard, relish, olives, some salsa, etc.)
  • Popcorn and corn chips should be avoided.
  • Artificial sweeteners may increase output, so keep an eye out when consuming “sugar-free” or “low-calorie” products.


Pro Tips

  • If you have access to a Registered Dietitian that understands the challenges of having an ostomy (or IBD), you’ll be able to get a personalized meal plan through them. Here is an article I wrote about how to find a dietitian HERE.
  • Try to have a variety of foods to make sure that you’re balancing nutrients.
  • Keep a food diary to monitor effects of certain food or drink, then adjust your diet accordingly.
  • Keep snack foods close by if you aren’t feeling well enough to cook or you don’t have any help following surgery.
  • Log your food intake so you can track calories and nutrients. I’ve used and still recommend CRON-o-meter.
  • If pouch odor is a concern for you, I’ve put together a handy guide on controlling it HERE.
  • When you’ve received the OK to start a normal diet, try new foods slowly so you can test to make sure they are passing through your stoma without trouble. Most people will be able to continue eating healthfully with only a few (if any) limitations.
  • The following foods and beverages can cause a dramatic change in your output’s consistency. You’ll likely be able to catch the culprit within hours of consuming them:
    • Coffee or tea
    • Sport drinks
    • Soda/Pop/Soft drinks (both diet and regular )
    • Fruit juices
    • Chocolate
    • Certain fruits (for me it’s cherries)
    • Artificial sweeteners
    • Alcoholic beverages (especially wine)
    • Fried foods
    • Hot/spicy foods
    • Non-vegan foods like dairy (or other lactose-containing food, if lactose intolerant)

Further Reading

  • Done your recovery? See what’s on the menu past your initial six weeks HERE.
  • To see what I was eating shortly after my surgery (along with nutritional profiles of those meals), please refer to THIS from approx. 2 weeks post-op, and THIS post from approx. 3.5 weeks post-op.
  • For more ideas on what foods to eat when eating is difficult, check out THIS article.
  • For ways to enhance nutrient absorption, consider reading THIS article.

QUESTION: Do you have any tips to share?

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danbh
Member

In the first video on this page, Eric is saying he was shocked that people were sent home after surgery, with no instructions as to what should they eat, or what to avoid for the first six weeks.
It was no shock to me to read it here, as I was one who got no instruction regarding what to eat, what not to eat, how to change my wafer and pouch, when to change them, how to release gas from the two piece unit I had on, and basically I went home with no idea about what should I do !!!

Before leaving the hospital, while waiting for my son to pick me up, I went to the nurse, and showed her the bag that was just about ready to explode from gas, and asked how do I take care of this bomb which is just about to explode, her answer was “a visiting nurse will see you tomorrow, and tell you all about it”, and with that turned around and walked away.

Doctors and nurses in hospitals want nothing to do with Ostomy, and apparently know nothing about it, yes the Sergent knows how to put the bag on after surgery, wash his hands, and with that he did his job.
To make things worse, the Stoma nurse (the only one in this county) was on vacation, with no one to take her place.

If it was not for the home care nurse, who came the next morning, and showed me the basics, and answered my questions (about 100 of them) I would have been in deep poo.

For my parastomal hernia surgery 5 months after the original surgery, no one bothered letting me know they put on me a different size bag & wafer (2-3/4 instead of 2-1/4) due to the swelling of the Stoma after the surgery. I got home, had a leak over night, and had to plug it up any which way I could, till I went back next morning to the ER, and got a few pieces to hold me till my order came in.

If you are new to all this, and going to have an Ostomy, ask about a Stoma nurse, and get in touch with her before hand, maybe arrange for her to visit you in the hospital. Or ask here, and would all try and give you the best ideas from our experience.

Lisa Adams
Guest
Lisa Adams

I went in recently for my ileostomy Loop procedure unfortunately two days in the hospital turned into 10 days in the hospital because I got a blockage and had to get an NG Tube. I just got home a few days ago and it’s been really hard to figure out what I can eat because I eat really healthy before surgery and now it seems like most of the things I ate I can’t eat anymore I found this extremely helpful does anybody have any pointers for shakes or anything that I should do I’m only 2 weeks out from my surgery

Barbara
Member

Amen Kerby, well put… it takes time to learn and test things. I am from the generation whete the doctor was “god”. Its taken a long ti.e to learn they don’t know everything . The good ones are The ones who listen to us.

Kerby
Member

What a Goofball I’m.. Lol

Kerby
Member

Oh heck. Duh???  I’m embarrassed. 

Kerby
Member

My side says February 4th 2018 ..yours also. 

Kerby
Member

I believe it’s April 2nd.  Right? 

Kerby
Member

I just noticed the dates are off. It’s showing Feb 4th.. My how time flies. Lol

Marcie
Member

You have it back wards my friend……….. :-)  

Kerby
Member

Not sure what you mean?  I was talking about the date showing on our replies?  M oh necsays 2 – 4th yours did to. Maybe it’s on my side. I will check. 

Kerby
Member

I am 4 months out from Colostomy. Much knowledge learned from Vegan Ostomy ( Eric)  Like I’ve mentioned before, I came home totally lost. I was lucky to come across Vegan Ostomy. My first 3 Home care Nurses were just not into either helping me or their mind was on something else. I finally lucked out an got an awesome Nurse?! Whom ” knew” what she was doing. Between Eric and my Nurse,  I grew up,  when it come to what we eat, which Ostomy we have, we are our own advocate. It’s called testing, trying. We are all different. I’m lucky. I’ve had no blockages not even close!!!  Yes, I eat berries. There’s no much I don’t eat. I also chew,  chew, chew.  Someone told me that?  Hummm.. Wonder who?  Eric guides us,  it’s up to us to determine what’s wrong. I’ve learned that my 5 Doctors don’t know everything, in fact they learn and listen. Ask questions. They don’t go home with us. Your gonna come across issues that will make you doubt yourself, want to give up!!  I’ve been on the floor with prayers a few times. Yes, it’s a set back, or maybe not. I’m alive!!  I’ve fought the challenges like all of you with pouches, barriers , you name it. There are really great Ostimates on this sight with alot of knowledge. It’s your choice, your decision on your care, only you. I asked some questions to Eric many times, which I thought was silly. Eric has always handled Answers, situations with respect. I’m fortunate he’s taken his time, with little income to do this on his own. I learned a heck of alot. I became more confident. It’s up to us to be happy. I know going through Cancer treatment their were others worse off. I’m lucky. I was given a chance. God Bless all of you. Hang in there, life is worth it. 😉😊😃

Marcie
Member

Your doing good Kerby !!!!!!!!!!!  It takes a good year to get us straightened out–but we get there right?  Our pouching systems, eating regular foods again.  We know our bodies best.sending you healthy wishes. M. 

Kerby
Member

Thank you.. :)

Barbara
Member

Hi all. I saw the post from Bettina re: diabetes. When I had my ostomy the nurse gave me a list of foods that I should not eat that would “give me all kinds of problems if I ate them”. Among them were lettuce spinach seeds Etc. I came home reading that list of foods and realizing that I also had an anti-inflammatory diet because I have severe rheumatoid arthritis and I also count carbs because I’m Type 1 diabetic. As I looked at those diets I realized suddenly that there was nothing that I could eat and thet I was going to slowly starve to death. I went to my primary care doctor and while I was there in a lighter moment she suggested that I could eat ribeye steaks with caramel sauce (please note it was a moment that needed a laugh and i did..the laugh was much needed) she then suggested that I talk to the education people in my endocrinologist office and find out if one of them was a dietitian. And sure enough one of them was I should have known that right from the beginning but I made an appointment and got in to see her. I showed her all of the information that had been given me. She was already aware of the anti-inflammatory issues and my diabetic issues. As she talked to me we decided that the best thing for me was to continue to follow my diabetic diet as the basis to build on. I am type one and I carb count. And I am well familiar with the different types of carbohydrates and how they affect me. She then suggested that after that I take the lists that were given to me for anti-inflammatory and for the ostomy and add foods to my diet from those diets at to see how they worked out. Kind of like a test add something and see if it works out okay. We already knew that seeds would not be good for me especially strawberry seeds, tomato seeds, and sesame seeds and others that are tiny seeds. My ostomy was as a result of diverticulitis that was ready to rupture. Something had gotten lodged in one of the diverticula in my colon and had fermented and was infected and ready to explode. I was told by my doctor that I still had diverticuli in the part of my colon that is left (I have a little less than half my colon left) and that I could have another incident caused by small seeds and things like that. So in my case I avoid seeds like the plague. Just because I don’t want to go through that kind of pain and more surgery again. In addition to the suggestions for adding foods and testing them basing it on my diabetic carb counting she also suggested that the FODMAP diet would be helpful ( yup She added another diet to the list, but it is helpful. I will give you the definition from literature she gave me. “FODMAPS are a group of small chain carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) that are commonly malabsorbed in the small intestine. Fodmaps are abundant in the diet and can be found in everyday foods such as wheat, barley, Rye, apples, mango, onion, garlic, honey, kidney beans, cashew nuts, agave syrup, sugar-free gum, mints and some medications to name a few. Up to 75% of those who suffer with IBS will benefit from a dietary restriction of fodmaps research has shown the low FODMAP diet improves GI symptoms for many people.” There is a lot of information on the internet about fodmaps if you have not heard about them. As I said I have found them helpful for me it has made me more secure in what I do eat and I feel like I have gotten along a lot better. I’m no longer afraid to open the refrigerator and eat something. Hope maybe some of this information helps somebody out there.

john68
Member

We all know that certain foods will give trouble and are advised to avoid. It sounds daft but for me Lettuce has always been a major problem. All of the advice and replies on VO are advise and experience of a seasoned ostomate and its clearly stated that its not medical advise. I had seen dozens of cases where that has been stated to questions.

Marcie
Member

Well put John.  I can eat ice burg lettuce. — but not the leafy type.  Everyone is different.  As we all have learned about OURSELVES and from others here, as we proceed into our new life as an Ostomate, our diet’s/foods improve..  Like Eric said, follow the Doctors advise, and slowly if you want introduce new foods–keep a diary.. I can eat grapes-not to many at one time- I can eat many straw berrys, pealed oranges.. I started slow and worked my way up– Although, I NEVER had these above the first 8 months tho.. and if I did ? water was a main factor of comsuming these. Now I just pop them in, chew, and enjoy!! Got to CHEW !!!!!!!! 

Carly
Guest
Carly

Wonderful thankyou very helpful

Connor McCarthy
Guest
Connor McCarthy

Currently reading this article while laying in the hospital next to a VERY loud snorer. I’m just now hitting the 2 week mark of my colostomy surgery, I rushed out of the hospital after 4 days without knowing if I could tolerate solid foods, needless to say I developed a blockage and after 48 hours ended up in the ER extremely dehydrated and projectile vomiting from the NG tube they had to reinsert(not very pleasant with the 17 staples in my abdomen). In the first weeks after surgery would you recommend not taking protein powders? I am 23 yrs old and very athletic protein shakes are a big staple in my diet.

Amy Pickering
Member
Amy Pickering

This video was very helpful. I am 4 weeks post-op with ileostomy. The diet has been challenging. In addition to ulcerative colitis, I also have Celiac disease. Luckily, I did meet with a registered dietitian, but the more information the better. Looking forward to better days ahead.

Bettina Stiemer
Member
Bettina Stiemer

What do diabetics (Type 1) eat? The diet advice is contrary to a diabetic diet. White bread, rice and noodles as well as canned fruit etc. is not good for me.

Yvonne Roos
Member
Yvonne Roos

Thank you for this website!
Everytime I think of another problem somewhere you have an answer.
I am gluten free and a new ostomate.

TravelAddict14
Member
TravelAddict14

Hi Eric,

It’s me again. Thank you so much for your wonderful site! I’m a lactose intolerant vegetarian (I was vegan but I got severely protein deficient so had to add eggs back in.) I’m a little over 6 weeks post-op and in hell with the diet. I tried to juice using a masticating juicer (a fancy schmancy one)-spinach,apple, cucumber …went great and then 3 hours later I had bad cramping and it all came out like solid stool does from your booty…Nurse said that was a mini obstruction and not to do it again. I’m so discouraged. I’m living off eggs, peanut butter, white pasta, bread,potatoes… thank goodness I can eat tofu but I’m missing greens. I can tolerate spinach when it’s cooked into a souffle but I’m so sick of it. I seem to be able to do peaches in a smoothie but it accelerates my output. As I posted on the thick output page, I’m having horrible issues with pancaking since all that I’m eating is the thickening output foods. I’m being reversed in 19 days but then I’ll be put back on the low residue diet again. My whole life I’ve been a high-fiber eating vegetarian and I’m so miserable. I’m also 20 lbs underweight right now. Dieticians have not been helpful due to not being geared towards vegan type diets. Any ideas?

Thank you!

pam ;'bell
Guest
pam ;'bell

I had colostomy surgery in July. I’ve been battling with constipation since I’ve come home. I didn’t have anyone discuss what I could eat and what to avoid before leaving the hospital. Its been a nightmare!! I just happened on your web page and I want to thank you for all the info. I now know what to avoid.

Thanks so much!

Pam Bell

David
Member
David

31 Days post surgery and am doing ok. I am a vegetarian and am living on milk, yogurt, cheese, breads, noodles and potatoes. I work full time and it is definitely a life changer. I have 8 months of chemo to get through. I lost 20 plus pounds with radiation and surgery (ileostomy is temporary, will have it until post chemo). I am a bit appalled at the overall lack of information available and the inconsistency. Your site is a life saver and I thank you. Is it true that eggs increase odor? I read somewhere (and now can’t find where) that it depended on how the eggs are prepared? Thanks and best wishes to all! We can do this.

TravelAddict14
Member

Hi David,

I’m also battling rectal cancer, although fortunately I was on a newer protocol for treatment and already did 4 months of chemo and 25 cycles of radiation with oral chemo so I’m not having to go through chemo with the ileostomy. I have to say that I’m not sure if you’re doing radiation, but I thought many times due to how painful it was it would have been nice to have an ileostomy.

I’m also a vegetarian although lactose intolerant so no dairy for me. Most of the resources, dieticians and fellow nurses (I’m a nurse) etc I’ve found have suggested being very cautious with dairy products. I think aged cheeses would be ok but I might stay away from a lot of milk, even if you’re not lactose intolerant can be hard on your healing stomach right now. Maybe try an alternative milk with protein powder. Pea protein has been a game changer for me-but you could have whey based due to not being lactose intolerant.

I HAVE been eating eggs every morning…I’ll tell you, it does definitely give a sulfur smell and it’s not pleasant but it’s not unbearable. My two cents is it’s worth it to get the protein.

Hugs! I’m here with you!

Anna

David
Member

Ana, thank you so much! I did the radiation and oral chemo (28 treatments) before the surgery, and now, 32 days post surgery am doing another 8 rounds of just the oral chemo. You for sure answered my question and that is what I am finding too. THank you very much. I feel relieved just to have a place to go ask a question! Have a great day and hugs to you, David

TravelAddict14
Member
TravelAddict14

Thank you SO much for this-the dieticians and surgeons are at complete odds with each other when it comes to this and it was so helpful. I’m a lactose intolerant vegetarian (can’t even tolerate yogurt) and they completely didn’t know how to handle me in the hospital- and kept trying to give me whey protein…

I’ve lost 5 lbs since my surgery and am really struggling with the low residue diet and getting protein. I eat eggs, peanut butter (but that usually shows up in my bag 20 mins later), tofu seems ok in smaller quantities and any time I try a protein shake it goes within 5 mins-it actually increased my output (I drank rebbl whih is a mix of pea protein, pumpkin protein and sunflowerprotein). Any ideas on how to add more vegan protein?I’m thinking I’ll add the powder to whole foods (like pasta) and see if that stays in any longer. It seems like if it’s in the bag within 10 mins as a liquid I’m not getting the nutrition…

Also-I wondered if you took any supplements as a vegan during this 6 week time? I assume I will get low on iron and B12 especially?

You are a true saving grace-thank you SO much for this site!

Stevi Sisco
Guest
Stevi Sisco

I had an iliostomy 3 weeks ago and found your site just so helpful!! OSTOMY nurses are few and far between. I have adjusted pretty well and I found that the food is pretty much an “ease into” basis. Thank you!

Blaize768
Guest
Blaize768

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for all the information you’ve provided on your website. I just had my surgery about 10 days ago, and I’ve been home for about a week. The doctors and nurses didn’t really give me any information at all and the last few days have been very trying. My sister and I have called several doctor’s offices and gone to a wound care clinic, but still weren’t provided with the necessary information about diet or how to really care for it. My ileostomy is only temporary, due to a treatment for my colon cancer, but it will still be with me for some time and it’s definitely a life changer. I’m so grateful to learn from people who have been successful with it and had a normal life.

Teaberry73
Guest
Teaberry73

Brand new ileostomate here. Thanks for this! Very helpful info. Been feeling overwhelmed with what and when to eat/drink. I’d like to eat as healthy as possible during this healing time and you have great tips here. Thanks!!

Mondlandung
Guest
Mondlandung

Wow, thank you so much! This is the most comprehensive list of eating on a vegan low fibre/low residue diet I’ve come across so far! Thanks so much for sharing!

Mondlandung
Guest
Mondlandung

btw, how I’ve come here: a vegan for many years, principally for ethical reasons, but of apparently a very delicate digestive system, I’ve dragged along bloatedness and flatulence for the last few years, never eating anything but whole unprocessed food (though not a raw foodist at all), staunchly believing that “whole grain” is the pinnacle of heatlh for everyone and that therefore I had to stick to it if I wanted to meet my nutrional needs as a vegan. First by accident, and then by methodic eating, I discovered that highly reducing the quantitiy of fiber in my diet by switching to processed food did away both with the bloated belly and the gassiness. Lists as yours help me to see the options I really have as a vegan and not to fall into the trap of white rice, noodles and fruit juices and long for the days of dairy as a staple !