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Foods to Avoid with Colostomy Bag

A colostomy is a surgical procedure in which one end of the large intestine is brought outside the abdomen in the form of a stoma. The purpose of this surgery is to give healing time to the affected part of the colon. Right after colostomy surgery, your surgeon will attach a colostomy bag to your newly formed stoma, which holds the stool, as you will no longer be excreting stool from the normal route, the rectum.

Living with a colostomy bag means adjusting to a new lifestyle, especially concerning dietary choices. You will have to limit the intake of certain food products for the health of your colostomy. Remember, a colostomy doesn’t affect your ability to digest different products, but avoiding certain foods and adding a few food items to your diet will expedite your recovery phase. In this comprehensive article, we will shed some light on the colostomy diet plan, which food products you should avoid with a colostomy bag, and the dietary guidelines when you are equipped with a colostomy bag on your abdomen. Here you go!

Colostomy Diet

To support healing and minimize any potential discomfort, you will be asked to follow a colostomy diet, which is a short-term diet that you have to follow for a few days or weeks after colostomy surgery. The colostomy diet has three basic components:

  1. Clear Liquid Diet:

Immediately after surgery, you may need to follow a clear liquid diet for several days. This diet includes easily digestible fluids such as broth, water, and plain gelatin. Clear liquids help keep you hydrated while giving your digestive system time to rest and heal.

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  1. Low Residue High Protein Diet:

As you progress in your recovery, you’ll likely transition to a low residue, high protein diet. This dietary approach involves consuming bland, easy-to-digest foods that leave minimal material in your gut after nutrient absorption. These foods help prevent gastrointestinal symptoms and discomfort. You may need to limit your intake of high-fiber foods during this phase, as they can increase stool size and potentially cause bowel blockages.

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  1. Resuming Typical Diet:

The low residue, high protein diet is typically only necessary for the first few weeks after surgery. As you start to feel better and your bowel function improves, you’ll gradually reintroduce a wider variety of foods into your diet. It’s essential to do this slowly and under the guidance of your doctor or dietitian to monitor how your body reacts to different foods.

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Foods to Avoid with Colostomy Bag:

Initially after surgery, the following food items should be avoided:

Dairy Foods: Dairy foods such as milk and cheese can cause bloating or sometimes diarrhea in some individuals, especially if the ostomate is lactose intolerant. Use lactose-free dairy products instead.

Meats and Protein: Tough cuts of meat, such as steak, fried meat, sausages, and bacon, can be challenging to digest and may cause blockages in the digestive system. Choose tender cuts or alternative protein sources like skinless poultry, fish, or tofu for easier digestion. You can also add creamy smooth nut butter to your portion of protein.

High-Fat Foods: Greasy or fried foods can contribute to changes in stool consistency and may lead to leakage, causing skin irritation around the stoma. Choose cooking methods like baking or steaming to reduce fat content. Also, add olive oil or canola oil to your diet.

Spicy Foods: Avoid extra spicy food as it may irritate your digestive tract, leading to diarrhea or increased bowel movements that will be challenging to manage with a colostomy bag. Avoid hot peppers and spicy additives. Choose mild seasoning options instead.

Vegetables to Avoid: Avoid raw or uncooked vegetables except lettuce. Certain vegetables may produce gas and abdominal discomfort, including broccoli, cabbage, and onions.

Fruits to Avoid:  Avoid consuming foods with skin such as apples, strawberries, blueberries, and grapes. Also, avoid consuming prune and grape juice.

Drinks to Avoid: It is often recommended in the colostomy diet to avoid carbonated drinks and alcohol as much as possible. They are not only good for health but also produce gas and abdominal discomfort with a colostomy bag.

Foods to Eat with Colostomy Bag:

After surgery, your healthcare provider or nutritionist will provide you with a list of food items that you can consume without any fear. This includes:

Cooked, Peeled, and Seedless Vegetables:

Potatoes (mashed or boiled), zucchini (steamed or sautéed), tomatoes (peeled and cooked), and lettuce (soft varieties, such as iceberg or butter lettuce).

Peeled and Seedless Fruits:

Ripe bananas, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and seedless watermelon.

Canned Fruits (in juice, not syrup):

Apricots, peaches, and pears (sliced and packed in water or natural juice).

Lean Proteins:

Eggs (boiled, scrambled, or poached), tofu (soft or silken tofu), skinless poultry (chicken or turkey breast), and fish (such as salmon, tilapia, or cod).

Smooth Nut Butters:

Peanut butter (creamy), almond butter, cashew butter, and walnut butter.

Refined Grains:

White bread (soft and easy to chew), crackers (saltine or plain), white pasta (cooked until tender), and white rice (plain or flavored with broth).

Low-Fat Dairy:

Skim milk, nonfat yogurt (plain or flavored), and cheese (low-fat varieties, such as mozzarella or cottage cheese).

Beverages:

Water (plain or flavored with lemon), pulp-free fruit or vegetable juice, broth (clear, low-sodium), sports drinks (for electrolyte replacement), and decaf tea or coffee (without added cream or sugar).

These foods are gentle on the digestive system, low in fiber, and easy to digest, making them ideal choices for individuals recovering from colostomy surgery.

Potential Digestive Issues with Solutions:

Loose Stools/Diarrhea:

Some foods affect stoma output, making the stool more liquidy. Foods that may cause diarrhea include green vegetables, spicy food, alcohol, prunes, or raw fruit.

Foods that Help: Bananas, tapioca pudding, cheese, boiled milk, smooth peanut butter, marshmallows, and starchy food such as noodles or rice.

Constipation:

Constipation is one of the most common digestive issues that ostomates face. The prominent reason for constipation is lack of mobility or lack of fluid.

Foods that Help in Constipation: Vegetables and fruits, especially skinless and seedless varieties, white bread, white pasta. Above all, drink plenty of water.

Wind or Gas:

Certain food products produce gas in the stomach, causing discomfort for ostomates.

Foods that Cause Wind/Gas: Cabbage, beans, cauliflower, sprouts, onion, fizzy drinks.

Foods that Help: Marshmallows, jelly yogurt, and peppermint tea. Avoid smoking and chewing gum. Avoid talking while eating

Odor:

Odor is one of the biggest concerns of ostomates which leaves them embarrassed in social gatherings.

Foods that Cause Odor: Fish, eggs, onion, cabbage, garlic, and asparagus.

Foods that Help with Odor: Yogurt and peppermint tea

General Dietary Guidelines:

Coming back to a regular diet after colostomy surgery requires patience and careful consideration. In the first few weeks after surgery, it is recommended to follow the below-mentioned guidelines:

  1. Take Small Portions of Meals: Instead of three big meals of the day, consume six small meals throughout the day. Eating large meals puts extra burden on your GI system, so it’s better to eat smaller portions which will help prevent discomfort and aid in digestion.
  2. Chew Your Food Properly: It is often recommended to slowly and thoroughly chew your food. Take your time while eating, and ensure that you chew your food thoroughly. This practice can ease the digestive process and minimize the risk of blockages or discomfort.
  3. Drink Plenty of Water: Try to have adequate water throughout the day. It’s recommended to drink at least 10 to 12 glasses of water each day. Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and can aid in maintaining regular bowel function.
  4. Take Low Fiber and Bland Foods: Focus on consuming bland, low-fiber foods in the initial stages of recovery. Bland and low-fiber foods are easier to digest and are less likely to cause gastric irritation or any other complications. These foods are easier to digest and less likely to cause irritation or complications. Refer to the “Recommended foods” section for suitable options.
  5. Slowly Introduce Foods: When reintroducing foods into your diet, do so gradually and one at a time, just like weaning a baby whose digestive system is developing to accept new food items. This approach allows you to monitor how your body reacts to each food item and identify any potential triggers or intolerances.

Conclusion:

Mindful eating is of utmost importance for people living with a colostomy bag. Choose foods that may help manage your colostomy. Avoid high-fiber foods, gas-inducing ingredients, spicy dishes, high-fat options, dairy products, tough meats, and carbonated beverages. By doing so, individuals with colostomy bags can significantly improve their quality of life. Throughout the recovery process, prioritize hydration and consume enough fluids to support healing and prevent dehydration. Additionally, listen to your body and pay attention to any digestive symptoms or discomfort, adjusting your diet as needed. Remember to consume small, frequent meals, chew food thoroughly, and stay hydrated throughout the recovery process.

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