Eating well is a big part of living life on your own terms. The good news: having a stoma should not stand in the way of enjoying good food.
Many people who are new to a stoma worry that it comes with a restrictive diet. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Eating well is a big part of your overall wellbeing. So, assuming you’ve got the ok from your healthcare team, you’re encouraged to enjoy a full and varied diet.
When it comes to food, just as in life, we’re all different. There are no set dietary rules, so what suits one person may not suit you. And vice versa. This is perfectly natural. Try to introduce different foods gradually and you’ll soon know what works best for you.
A healthy, balanced and nutritional diet should include the following:
How you eat is as important as what you eat:
Eating smaller portions more regularly can aid absorption. Depending on the type of stoma you have, this can help to reduce the effects of excess wind, constipation and diarrhoea.
Smaller pieces of food are more easily digested, so always take your time to chew your food. Many people also prefer their food to be well rather than lightly cooked.
Not only does water refresh your palate but drinking also aids the absorption of food. It can even prevent the build-up of wind.
Many people keep a food diary to make a note of their meals and any adverse reactions they’ve had – such as excess wind, constipation and watery stools.
Being well hydrated is important for every single biological function of your body; it helps you stay alert, improves concentration and is vital for all aspects of your health and wellbeing. After bowel surgery, especially removal of the large bowel, the body’s ability to absorb water may be compromised, therefore it’s important to pay attention to your needs.
There are no hard and fast rules about how much you should drink. Everyone will have different needs from one day to the next. NHS guidelines recommend around 6-8 glasses of fluid (1.5-2 litres) per day but many people will need much more than that and those guidelines are for someone without a stoma.
The best indicator of your hydration status is your urine colour. Aim for light straw-coloured urine – this means you’re probably drinking enough. If your urine is darker in colour you need to drink more fluid.
To stay hydrated it’s very important NOT to drink excessive amounts of plain water. This can flush the electrolytes from your body and increase your stoma output, making dehydration worse. It’s fine to drink some water of course but try to include a wide range of fluids including squash, juice and oral rehydration solutions.
Check out our other guides for more information about living a full and active stoma life. And why not share your foodie tips on our social media channels?