Managing Ileostomy: Ballooning, Weight Gain, Food, Exercise


After 9 months of an ileostomy, I would like to know how to avoid ballooning (only occasional); how to gain weight without having to increase bag emptying frequency, foods to definitely avoid at all costs, and finally what sport to avoid. Any advice would be really appreciated. Thanks.



I've owned my ileostomy for 2 years now. I needed to gain weight back and ate starches to accomplish my goals. Now that I'm back to my old weight, I had wished I didn't try so hard. I now must watch my calories. Never eat beans or nuts (yet I can eat pulverized pecans), definitely no skins or hard raw veggies. My ballooning is due to my dairy and broccoli.
Now every person is different... it took me over a year to slowly eat salad, but I chop my lettuce, peel my tomatoes, take out the seeds, and food process my cucumber.
Try new foods in tiny amounts.
Good luck, I know it's hard to adjust, but you will.

Ritz. PS, I walk, swim, ride a bike, and yes I do sit-ups (even though the sit-ups don't strengthen my mushy, over-operated-on tummy)

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Eat anything you like, just in moderation, until you know it's okay for you. The more you eat, the more comes out, just as it would without an ostomy.

Exercise. There's nothing you can't do. Climb a mountain if that's your thing, just start off easy and work your way up to more strenuous exercise.


Hi Kathryn,

Simple questions with not-so-simple answers. Ballooning is primarily a function of what you eat and how it ferments in your bowel. It also can be a result of how much air you ingest as you eat. I think you can find lots of good info on that subject here and a little searching will pay dividends. Just listing foods that cause that in myself probably won't help you much, we're all a bit different and you need to determine your own demons. How to eat more without increasing that's a tough one. What goes in must come out.........except for what's absorbed into your bloodstream. First, it depends on how much of your small bowel is still intact and disease free. That will determine what you can absorb and what will simply go straight in your bag. Without a colon, liquids that normally would be re-absorbed back into you will not. So things like protein drinks may be of little benefit......meaning you might absorb more protein, but the liquid that carries it will increase your output. What you want to find are what's called 'low residue foods'......basically the stuff you can eat that creates the least amount of waste (output). Again, there's lots of info out there on this, you just have to adapt what you read for your situation. What you need to avoid at all costs sort of needs to be tempered by the amount of those things you can eat. And that's a trial and error thing. I'm not trying to skirt your questions, but after almost 7 years as an ostomate, I've learned there are no hard and fast rules. What works for one doesn't work for I stopped looking for quick short answers to my questions. Folks can tell you what works (and doesn't work) for them, but they aren't you. So certainly listen to what everyone has to say as 'guidance', but not 'gospel', if you know what I mean. And lastly.......what sports to avoid. If you're trying to gain weight......avoid all of them! It's couch potato time!! Ok, seriously, anything you do that burns lots of calories is not going to make gaining weight easier.

So there you have it..........I just wrote like 20 sentences and answered none of your questions! But maybe I gave you a smidge of insight into how you can go about answering them for yourself. Maybe.





Thank you, that is really helpful.

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Hiya Bob, thank you for all that; very helpful. And you're right, I need to read up more. After 9 months, I am slowly reintroducing different foods. My ileum is fine, and I have a double-barrelled ostomy with a view to reconnection in November. Just conscious that I must be very careful with what I eat initially after rejoining, as the first time my bowel was connected, I had a leak. So, hence the ostomy for the second operation. The first time was to fix a twisted ascending colon, so they chopped that bit out. But I really appreciate your informative reply.


Hi Kathryn, I too have been an ileostomate for nine months. First of all, don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't eat this or that. Everyone is different. I can eat anything, nuts, seeds, skins, all fruits and veg. Eat slowly, chew well, and drink lots of fluids to wash things down. To prevent ballooning, use a pouch with a vent. If you don't want lots of volume in your output, but want to gain weight, eat less high fiber, and more high calorie foods, i.e., food rich in oil. High sugar foods will definitely help you put on weight, it's just not good for you! Maybe add a little more sugar to your diet just until you get where you want to be?

I am back at the gym and doing all of my pre-ostomy workout, including abdominals, but I started slowly.

By the way, I also have two ostomies! Mine isn't a double-barrel, but I have a stoma from my original colostomy, which is now not active, and then my ileo which they gave me nine months ago. Because it's been working really well, I'm having surgery at the end of the month to get rid of my colostomy stoma. Good riddance I say. I'll be happy with my ileo and it's improved my quality of life immensely.

Good luck!



I love the idea of doing an abdominal workout, but when you say "started slowly," can you be more specific?

I am 60 s/p ileostomy for prophylactic purposes after 35 years of low-grade colitis.  I wish you a quick recovery from surgery. One ostomy surely is enough.  Feel good.  Be safe, Leslie


Hi Terry, thank you for your advice; I really appreciate it. I have been most cautious post ileostomy because of a previous leak. I am gaining confidence each day.


Hi Leslie, I started with some exercises my ostomy nurse told me about. She gave me a printout and I think there was a website I looked at with videos. I'll see if I can find it and get back to you. Anyway, those exercises are for abdominals, but very gentle. They were meant specifically for post-surgery ostomates. I then started to re-strengthen my core with planks and gradually introduced leg lifts, one leg at a time, then eventually two legs. I do some gentle crunches. I'm not one for sit-ups because I have a bad upper spine. My favorite abdominal exercise is doing leg lifts on the 'roman chair', a piece of equipment I have found that not all gyms have. If you are careful and build abdominal strength slowly, you will help prevent a hernia in the future, something none of us wants!

Yes, one stoma is quite enough alright! Take care and good luck with your workout!