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Ostomy Care: Diet

Anyone will know of certain foods that have a noticeable impact on their digestive system. It could be a food that causes them to feel nausea, gives them stomach cramps, results in wind, constipates them or the reverse. Having said this, the majority of people give more thought to the calories, salt or more recently sugar in what they are consuming, than the affect it will have on their digestion.

For people with conditions including food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome, it becomes far more important to be aware of what they are eating and the likely results. The same is true for ostomates. There are certain foods that commonly cause issues with digestion, but each individual will be affected in different ways, so they need to invest time in understanding which foods and drinks improves or causes issues with our digestion.

Common Advice on Sensible Eating

Everyone is advised to adopt sensible eating habits such as eating regular meals as opposed to skipping meals and then over indulging. We are all encouraged to drink plenty of water and to chew our food properly to enjoy the flavour, improve digestion and prevent overeating. Whilst we are made well aware of the benefits of sensible eating and a balanced diet, we are all guilty of doing the opposite.

For ostomates, following this advice is especially important. Sensible eating can improve the predictability of pouching, enabling us to take control of potential problems such as odours and excessive gas. Following surgery on the intestine a greater volume of liquid can be absorbed into the body, so drinking plenty of water is essential to aid digestion and prevent dehydration. Water can also dilute and therefore reduce odours. Sensible eating can also be vital in the prevention of issues such as blockages.

Blockages

There are some foods that are often to blame for blockages. These are typically high fibre foods that are more difficult for the body to naturally digest and include sweetcorn, dried fruits, pineapple, potato and other fruit or vegetable skins. It is good to include fibre in our diet; you can get advice from your stoma nurse on alternatives that are less likely to cause blockages.

Blockages can cause ostomates a number of problems. These include nausea, stomach cramps, a swollen stoma and watery stools. If you are suffering from these symptoms, it is important to consult your stoma nurse as soon as possible, so the problem can be remedied.

Common Food Affects

You may find some of these foods have no particular effect on your body, but these are some of the foods and drinks that commonly cause issues for ostomates.

Increased levels of odour are often caused by coffee, asparagus, cabbage, fish, alcohol, garlic and onions. Increased levels of gas are often caused by the eating of the same foods, with the addition of beans, diary produce, broccoli, spinach, nuts, fizzy drinks, mushrooms and sweetcorn. This isn’t to say that you can’t or shouldn’t eat any of these foods, but you may wish to consider the impact and make decisions based on the forthcoming events in your diary.

There are also foods which can have a positive effect. Cranberry juice, water, buttermilk, yogurt and parsley can help to reduce odours. If your stools are very solid, fruit juice and chocolate can be effective thinners, whilst yogurt, banana and peanut butter can thicken loose stools.

Understanding Your Body

If you have recently had an ostomy, it can be useful to keep a food diary. One at a time add new foods to your basic diet, keeping a record of what you’ve eaten and the results after a day or two. This will help you to gain an understanding of which foods digest easily, quickly or slowly, as well as those which cause or reduce gas and odours.

You will soon start to notice patterns forming and with this information, you can start to make informed decisions about when to eat or avoid certain items.

For further support and advice on ostomy care and a full range of ostomy care products email careline@triohealthcare.co.uk.