Healthy eating with a stoma

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If you have a colostomy or ileostomy you can eat a normal, well-balanced diet.  However, you may find that certain foods or drinks may upset you.  Food that agrees with some does not always agree with others - it is a very individual thing.  The following information is only a rough guide.  Your own experience will be more valuable.  It is important to try everything (more than once to be certain). 

What can I eat after my operation?

You may find having small, frequent meals is easier initially.  Build up to three regular meals and gradually introduce new foods in small portions.  Drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice or squash.  If any food causes a problem, temporarily remove it from your diet and then try the food again after about two weeks. A common worry in people with a stoma is odour.  People with an ileostomy are less likely to have problems with odour.  Some people are more prone to wind than others and if you feel this is a problem it might help to change your diet slightly. 

 What changes do I need to make to my diet?

 Many people with a stoma can eat whatever they like.  However, some people find certain foods can alter their stoma output.  Finding out which foods affect you can be hit and miss at first, but the list overleaf will give you some guidance.   People with an ileostomy can eat the majority of foods but there are certain aspects of your diet, which need extra care. 


Aim for 8-10 tall glasses of fluid per day and extra during warm weather.

(Fluids such as tea & coffee will increase ileostomy output and lead to dehydration especially in hot weather, so keep these to a minimum).

Sports drinks can be very useful as they replace essential salts & glucose

E.g. Lucozade Sport or Isotar.


Always chew your food well, especially high fibre foods, as this will help digestion and passage through the stoma.



Some people find certain foods can alter their stoma output.  The following lists may give some guidance.

 Foods that may cause wind


Foods that may loosen stools

You should be aware of foods which are very high in fibre as they can stimulate the gut and may give you diarrhoea, such as: cabbage, pineapple, bean sprouts, tomato skins, nuts, coconuts, bamboo shoots, orange pith, lettuce or celery


Foods that may help with diarrhoea      

Remember if you are suffering from diarrhoea you need to ensure you increase your fluid intake to avoid dehydration. 


Foods that may help with constipation           

Foods that may cause odour    


Foods that may help control odour


Poorly digested food (& most likely to cause blockage)  

If you suspect that you have a blockage in your stoma, it may be worthwhile eating the foods and drinks that normally cause you wind as this may dislodge any particles.  If this does not help, then see your doctor.

Remember that everybody is different and you may be unaffected by many of these foods.  Try foods in small amounts at first & then gradually build up your portion sizes until you are eating normally.  

Further information can be obtained from  your Stoma Care Nurse or Dietitian or : -

The Ileostomy Association
Amblehurst House, Black Scotch Lane, Mansfield,
Notts NG18 4PF
Tel: 0800 0184724

The British Colostomy Association (BCA)
15, Station Road,  Reading, Berkshire,
Tel: 0118 9391537


Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.

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