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


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.


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



  • 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


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?


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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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!

    • HI Anna,

      I’ve replied to your other post as I think there might be some questions that need answering before coming up with a plan.

      When it comes to diet and food options, I always recommend keeping a food diary and testing new foods (in small quantities) so you can expand your diet with foods that work for you.

      I would lay off the juicing, as it tends to have a laxative effect for many people (including me). Are you OK with smoothies? Preferably ones that aren’t as thick?

      • What kind of smoothie? I have been ok with peach, vegan protein powder, yogurt ( I also was forced to add this back in due to lack of protein), banana and I blend until it’s quite thin but is the banana too thickening?
        …When I tried melon it did not go well but that was 2 weeks post op. It’s actually hard to get melon off -season..it’s apple/pear season down here..and soon to be citrus but I’ve been scared to try anything acidic.

        I’m wondering if it was the lime in the juice that was a problem? It kind of looked like the juicer didn’t get it all out. I guess I could try a simpler recipe..JUST spinach and apple? Just struggling to find simple 2 item recipes in order to try out “one thing at a time” idea.

        • Definitely try simple recipes to start and don’t be afraid to keep them on the loose end. Bananas can act as a thickener, but no so much when they are fully ripened (yellow with black spots).

          If you don’t like water for your liquid base, try almond milk rather than soy milk as it’s more runny.

          • Thanks so much.

            Sorry to clarify but what do you mean ‘on the loose end’? I don’t know what to put into smoothies when i’m not supposed to have fiber? I use super ripe bananas…I’m a little worried the protein powder is thickening my output…is there anything I can put in a smoothie that wont??

            • By “loose end”, I mean more watery instead of thick.

              The idea of having a smoothie is that the fiber you normally wouldn’t be able to tolerate very well is already broken down by the blender, which makes it far easier to pass through your system.

              The protein powder might be thickening your output – you could try adding some whole nuts to your blender before adding wet ingredients (turn them into powder) and add enough almond milk to make the smoothie more runny to counter the thickening effects of whatever else you might be putting in it.

              If the goal is to get nutrition, I would suggest adding frozen berries to your smoothie. Even a small amount will bring huge benefits, and the almond milk you’d use would also be fortified. Note that almond milk will have far less protein than soy milk, but it’s not as thick as soy milk (you can try both).

              • Frozen berries?? But the seeds! The dieticians all say absolutely no way with berries and an ileostomy…I guess if I juice them? I am so scared to juice ever since I had a mini obstruction from juicing before.

                I use almond milk because soy milk bothers my stomach. I have been using a protein nut milk (almond/cashew) but that REALLY accelerates my output.

                It seems like I am just stuck and have to make it to reversal in 15 days and then I’ll deal with another set of issues. I just am feeling so hopeless as I’m getting such crappy nutrition:(

                Thank you for your advice!

            • Strawberry/raspberry seeds from a half cup of mixed fruit should not be a problem for anyone – You should see the number of berries I eat at a time ;)

              But you can also just use frozen mango, or blueberries, which shouldn’t be problematic at all.

              You could try juicing, but some people find it creates too much of a laxative effect.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

    • 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!


      • 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

    • Hi David,

      Yes, the lack of information is exactly why I felt the need to create this site. I’m glad that you’re finding it helpful.

      Eggs will increase odor, as will most foods with high sulfur content like cabbage, broccoli, etc.

  7. 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!

    • Hi Anna,

      I wrote about the product that I used after surgery here: https://www.veganostomy.ca/vegan-meal-replacement-what-ive-settled-on-updated-oct-16-2013/

      I noticed that Walmart has been selling vegan meal replacement/protein powders over the past few months, but I haven’t tried any.

      Can you mash up beans (chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.) and add it to toast or anything like that? It’ll get a lot of protein in and may help to thicken things up.

      Pasta and potatoes are good options as well, and they’ll help thicken things up and slow them down.

      I was (and still do) take B12 supplements. And I was on iron pills for a little while when I had active bleeding – I’m no longer taking them.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!!

  11. 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!

    • 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 !

      • I’m glad to hear that you’ve been able to figure out your tummy issues! I’ve had to scale back on some of the “12 grain” breads, as I find there’s simply too much that’s not being digested!

        I am trying to put together some low-fiber recipes, but that’s been a bit of a challenge, as I don’t usually follow recipes to begin with!

        Wishing you all the best!


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