The holiday season is approaching fast and if you are an ostomate, you might find some challenges with management while navigating the holidays. Let’s be real. We all indulge in rich foods, party snacks, and those special traditional family recipes that are available only at Thanksgiving or Christmas. The weather has turned cool and we take advantage of covering up with cozy sweaters and relaxing while visiting with friends and family.
This closeness can create some anxiety or fear about your ostomy. Fears of uncontrolled noises, pouch ballooning, leakage, how to dress so your pouch is not visible or odor while emptying your pouch. These are real concerns but don’t let them get in the way of having fun and enjoying the season.
Expelling gas from the stoma can be embarrassing. Since there is no sphincter muscle, there is no control to hold gas in. It escapes at the least opportune time. As mentioned previously, layering clothing can help muffle the noise. Stealth Belt offers a muffler that can be placed in the stealth belt to minimize noise. Avoid foods that are known to increase gas. These include:
Savor the flavor of your food. You’re less likely to overeat. Chew it well and drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. Consider eating small portions of your favorite foods and bring some home to enjoy later. In fact, I always bring my own container for leftovers!
Many ostomates will stick to eating foods they know won’t cause issues. If you plan on indulging, try using Gas-X, Beano, or Phazyme to help with gas-producing foods. If you plan on eating sweets, drinking alcohol, or eating foods known to loosen ostomy output, you can ask your doctor about using Imodium or adding fiber such as Metamucil or Benefiber.
Some ostomates enjoy fewer restrictions in the diet than prior to surgery but keep in mind, certain foods are more likely to cause an obstruction/blockage. It does not mean you cannot have these foods but eating them in small amounts and chewing well will help. These foods include:
Celebrating the season with friends/family often includes drinking alcohol. This can cause dehydration. While this is an issue for everyone, it is crucial for those with ostomies. Try to alternate your cocktails with a glass of water or electrolyte beverage to replenish what’s lost.
The best advice is “to be prepared.” If traveling by car, train, or bus, be sure to pack a small bag with the items needed for pouch changes, clothing, and accessories. If traveling by plane, here are a few tips.
How prepared are you with supplies on hand? Now is the perfect time to order supplies. With all the staffing shortages at every business out there, combined with delivery delays across the globe, getting your supplies can be a challenge. The increase in delivery needs as the Christmas season draws near will compound the problem. Do not wait until you are very low on supplies to order. Order before it becomes an issue, order extra if possible.
There may be things you don’t eat because of how they affect your ostomy output. Many of your favorite dishes can be altered by substituting a few ingredients.
The holiday season is a time to reflect on the past year. Find the things you are grateful for and don’t be shy about expressing your gratitude to those who support you.
Be thankful for your health, whether you are in transition as a new ostomate or a seasoned one. We have much to be thankful for!
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Christine Kijek is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She has completed courses for wound and ostomy specialty and has 20 years of experience. She has been ...
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