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Ostomy Nutrition

Ostomy Nutrition
Kevin Cleary

As you can imagine, what you eat has an impact on your digestive system. When living with an ostomy you should pay close attention to the types of food you ingest. Since ostomy patients don’t have complete control over their bowels, the impact of digested food can be more pronounced than in someone with an intact digestive system. Understanding which foods can produce negative effects in the gastrointestinal tract or ostomy appliance can help minimize potential issues with your ostomy.

Food Is Food, Right?

While this may seem simple, for those living with an ostomy, different foods have different impacts on the gastrointestinal system. Ostimates should follow a couple of guidelines when eating to avoid potential problems. Those with an ostomy should be sure to drink plenty of liquids, eat small amounts of food, and thoroughly chew your food. The United Ostomy Association of America offers tips for choosing the proper diet that include:

  1. Avoid Gas Producing Foods: Certain foods can produce more gas than others and this can accumulate in your appliance, therefore bloating it and causing it to separate from your skin. These foods include beans, cabbage, dairy products and even chewing gum can negatively affect gas production.
  2. Steer Clear of Odor Producing Foods: One embarrassing aspect of an ostomy can be odor and avoiding the foods that create more odor than others can help avoid this embarrassing topic. Foods such as asparagus, eggs, fish, and garlic are all foods that can produce a stronger odor than others.
  3. Minimize Stools: Avoiding foods that can increase stools can help with minimizing appliance changes and/or frequency of the need to empty your bag. An ostimate should steer clear of alcoholic beverages, prunes, bran cereals, and fresh fruits if they want to minimize the production of stool in their appliance. This can benefit the skin around your stoma and even your pocketbook!!
  4. Diarrhea Control: Another way to minimize the need for appliance changes is to eat food that heads off the possibility of diarrhea. Applesauce, bananas, tapioca, and toast can all help control the incidence of diarrhea. This might be the only time a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich is a good idea!!
  5. Stoma Safety: There are foods that can be obstructive to your stoma and can cause health problems to your peristomal skin. These can include celery, Chinese vegetables, mushrooms, and even fruits and nuts such as oranges and popcorn.

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What are Ostomy Concerns and Solutions?

Nutrition can have direct impact on those with an ileostomy or colostomy. These “side effects” of food eaten by ostomates can vary. Understanding which foods can be problematic is important to those with an ostomy as well as potential solutions. Problems and solutions can include:

  • Gas: The buildup of gas can inflate your ostomy bag causing it to separate itself from your skin around your stoma. Some of this can be avoided with the implementation of an apparatus with a filter to allow gas to escape.
  • Odor: With stools usually comes an unpleasant odor. By eating foods that are naturally less offensive you can avoid embarrassment. Also, the use of an apparatus that minimizes the escape of these unpleasant odors through the use of vent and deodorizer kits can be beneficial. You can also incorporate odor removers that can be added to your pouch to help eliminate odor.
  • Obstructive Foods: Since your stoma contains potentially sensitive skin, you should do everything in your power to make sure to keep this opening in your abdomen clear. Obstructive foods can cause complications that may require medical assistance such as infection.
  • Diarrhea: Liquid or runny stools can irritate sensitive skin around your stoma as well as cause you to change your appliance more frequently. This can also increase instances of odor and become inconvenient for your daily schedule. Try adding an absorbent tablet into your apparatus to transform liquids into a gel that may be easier on peristomal skin.

To avoid potential problems with your ostomy, you should work with your doctor or a nutritionist to develop a diet plan that fits your lifestyle. Ostimates should follow some tips in order to minimize some negative effects of the food they eat. You should chew your food thoroughly and drink plenty of fluids during meals while eating smaller, more frequent meals. Also, any new foods should be introduced one at a time in order to be able to detect any potential problem. Again, if any problems persist you should consult your doctor, nurse, or a registered dietitian familiar with ostimies.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.

HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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