Polite alternatives to dining out as a new ostomate?

Jun 06, 2022 11:39 am

Good morning my fellow ostomates.

I know socializing in our society/culture is all about food... we meet for coffee, we go out to lunch, we go out to dinner, etc. But as a new ostomate, I'm uncomfortable doing that with new people (coffee is ok I guess). So when someone asks me to lunch or dinner, how can I politely say that I don't want to and what can I suggest as an alternative event? And I don't want to reveal I have an ostomy right away (I don't want to talk about how we poop as the opening conversation. LOL)

Jun 06, 2022 12:05 pm

My papa (not my father, very long story) loves to bring up my ostomy at every family gathering and right before we eat or while eating, he loves to tell a story about a friend of his years ago that burped his appliance in a car full of people, making the driver vomit. The ostomate was told it was okay to do this by the driver as she didn't want to stop. Well, once burped, it made that very same driver vomit, forcing the stop anyways.

Not exactly dinner conversation, and I've asked that he stop telling it as when the story is over, everyone looks at me. I've asked again that he stop this storytelling as we have all heard it numerous times now, then the next function arrives and papa tells his story...

Now I leave the room. It's family. I'm stuck with him and am lucky for that. I just wish he would stop telling that same damn story and putting the focus on me.

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Jun 06, 2022 1:20 pm

SallyK, I'm having trouble understanding your predicament.  Why does the fact that you have an ostomy have to play a role in socializing?  Nobody knows and nobody needs to know.  If you have to empty (with me, typically toward the end of a dinner out), just excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.  It's no one's business and, if they are so close to me that they already know, then they won't think anything of it.

Jun 06, 2022 1:28 pm
Reply to HenryM

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I do not want to go out to lunch/dinner with someone I am just getting to know. My anxiety gets very high just thinking about doing something like that, so my ostomy can be unpredictable (an example would be my output becomes liquid and my pouch fills up very fast) when this happens. I would rather do something else.... maybe something outside or a more noisy environment? But how do I say this to someone without revealing I have an unpredictable ostomy? &zwj

Jun 06, 2022 1:45 pm

How about "Hey, I am currently trying a special diet." Can we do something else?

Okay, by now you should be getting used to my bizarre sense of humor and the fact that I wanted to add to this statement something about going to the beach so I can wear my newest "butt thong/floss bikini" - sorry - if it's in my head, it comes outta my iPad keyboard!
Keep smilin' JB

Staying Hydrated with an Ostomy with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Jun 06, 2022 1:53 pm
Reply to Justbreathe

Love your sense of humor! A special diet...good idea. And it's true because I do have a limited diet right now. Thanks!

Jun 06, 2022 2:14 pm

This is very simple. You pick the activity you want to do with that person(s). They say, "How about dinner?" You say, "Let's meet after dinner for _____." That way, they know you don't want to eat, you want to do whatever it is you choose. Of course, I'm with Henry on this, going to the bathroom happens for anyone, bag or no bag, so I don't get why anyone gets all worked up over it. And saying to someone, "Gotta poop" might be an icebreaker. Or, you go eat and you "fart", just make sure you sit next to other people. That way, you can lean over to your date and say, "Did you just hear them fart in public?"

I've recently become very okay with my bag, I don't care who knows I have it. I got into a tanning competition (yes, you read that right) with a certain person and I'll be damned if I'm gonna lose. So, when I take Cooper to the lake or when I mow, off comes my shirt so I can soak up the sun. I wear a Stealth Belt while at the lake, but I'm sure it's very obvious as to what I'm covering up. Nobody has jumped out of the way or said, "OMG, he poops from that." Actually, I'm more worried about being an old fat dude with no shirt on than I am about people knowing I have an ostomy. So, stop worrying about something that you have no choice about having and that is actually just something humans must do in order to live. Eventually, you're gonna eat with that person(s), get it out of the way, and be done with the anxiety that you're just bringing on yourself.

Jun 06, 2022 2:24 pm
Reply to SallyK

I don't get the "unpredictable ostomy". I'm guessing that you, like most ostomates, eat basically the same thing every day. So, how is it unpredictable? I have the worst eating habits and except for breakfast, I eat different things all the time at all different times of the day or night. I really pay no attention to what/when I eat and mine very rarely ever "acts" up to what I'd consider unpredictable. &zwj

Jun 06, 2022 8:05 pm
Reply to AlexT

When I am nervous, my output becomes liquid and my pouch fills up very fast. This can happen a couple of times in a row.

Jun 06, 2022 8:05 pm
Reply to AlexT

I wish I could wave a magic wand and my anxiety around my ostomy would disappear.

Jun 06, 2022 8:38 pm
Reply to SallyK

Throw some pixie dust on it and then wave the wand.

Jun 06, 2022 8:57 pm

Hi Sally, anxiety is a very real thing and should not be minimized. I think the idea of saying you are on a diet that makes it difficult to go out, makes sense. It's not lying either! As you get more used to being out and about with your ostomy, hopefully your anxiety will ease, but you can't just wish it away. I also know what it's like to have your pouch fill up really quickly. When I had my colostomy and I had to take boatloads of laxative to make things move, my output would turn to liquid and my pouch could fill in about 30 seconds. It was scary and you wouldn't want to be out in public anywhere! I do find that now I am getting more comfortable telling people I have an ostomy, but that is a very individual thing and may or may not come with time. Be kind to yourself, and don't add any unnecessary pressure. I'm sure eating out will become something you can enjoy again, when you are ready.


Jun 06, 2022 9:12 pm
Reply to TerryLT

Thanks, Terry.

Jun 07, 2022 1:34 am

I'm not really into going out for dinner, even before getting an osteomy. I'd rather go miniature golfing, bowling, shooting pool, zoo, hiking, gun range, paintballing (lol).... So many other options. And more engaging.

Jun 07, 2022 1:35 am
Reply to Gemini16

Thanks! All great ideas.

Jun 07, 2022 7:56 am

Hello SallyK.

Thanks for this post and thanks to everyone who have replied with some great ideas. 

I have never been shy about declining invitations to attend socialising events and have found that over time  people tend to stop asking me.

However, I still seem to meet a lot of people in different settings without the incumbency of having to sit down in a prearranged place to do so.  All those who know me also know that I only drink plain water, so being invited for a ‘drink’ is a bit of a waste of time. Sometimes, my response to invitations is to counter it with an invitation to them to join me in one of my (volunteering) activities. This has often worked very well with those who are so inclined. 

Some invitations come regularly,  usually annually, but when I was working, it was on everyone’s birthday. This was always too much for me so I did my usual thing and compiled a rhyme as a response.

Also, I used to run a (therapeutic) conversational session twice a week, to which anyone could be invited, so I would counter most personal invitations with my own invitation for people to attend these sessions.

Those who did come were not disappointed with the conversational interaction  and over time attendance remained healthy. 

I am a firm believer in doing ‘your-thing’ as I have written in the very last line of the rhyme; “No can do!”

Best wishes



Sorry I can’t make your do,

but this is not to do with you.

I find as I grow old you see

I can’t be like I used to be. 

I cannot socialise so well

and that’s it – in a nutshell.

My taste has gone, my hearing too,

rarely now do I argue.

It gets too hard in company

not to create disharmony.

I used to love to play the game

when humour was my middle name. 

But as the pain of life moves on

I find my humour’s almost gone.

All that mischievous tyranny

has melted into irony. 

I cannot always find a way

to make sense of all I say,

and if I can’t do this for me

I don’t want other’s there to see. 

Oh! to be different I may wish –

like you are water and I’m the fish.

I’ve given up on all these do’s

and only  stay where I can’t lose.

If I came I’d feel a Walley

sharing all this melancholy.

So –forgive me if I don’t arrive,

I’m sure that you will all survive.

My best wishes to everyone

and do your thing –‘till your thing’s done. 

                                                              B. Withers 1996

                                                      (In: Reflections 1998)

Jun 07, 2022 9:09 am
Reply to SallyK

Please post pics of you paintballing.

Jun 07, 2022 11:11 am
Reply to TerryLT

Great post and thanks for writing it! It opened my eyes to the differences we all experience!; Colostomy vs Ileostomy for one. Cannot even begin to imagine output filling a bag so rapidly - and yes, this would be a concern when it comes to an evening out. It certainly helped me to understand SallyK's angst. It takes time to figure out what our new normal might be. I am almost two years with an ileostomy and still have revelations, from time to time, regarding my life with Seymour (my stoma). JB

Jun 19, 2022 5:06 pm

It seems the issue is nutrition. A good exercise is to write down all the foods you like and take notes hourly of what happens when you ingest any food, minute to minute, play by play. I know what to eat with friends that know and with dates that do not know; I know what makes sounds, and I can call the time I will need to use the restroom if at all; I'm a picky eater.

I eat only fruits now, and lean meats and cheeses, very little processed foods. But, love to go out to dinner, and it's never an issue, at all. Also, there are so many other things to do such as bowling, dart shooting, or pool, pinball machines, and mini-golf, or a walk barefoot on the coast or a park. You can get a good buzz and jump in the lake; need to have the mind of a marine for these conditions, always ready for everything to the point you know what you are going to need at each moment and how to react to any possible scenario, and predict. Dress for it, as I said, I can literally jump in the water at the beach and my date would not know. I could go jump in with a t-shirt on and she still would not know. Answer: you just dress for it. I'm slim with a flat stomach which helps to stay anonymous. Limitations are all in our minds, and reflect on our actions. My best advice is to stop caring what anyone says or thinks. I could have a leak in the middle of a restaurant and would be ok. I just don't care, why should I? I also have the perfect appliance for dates and swimming, etc.

I have had margaritas, nachos, and other delicious foods; I just know what each food does and when, to the minute, exceedingly well, that is the key. I just know exactly what is going to happen and only eat what is right for the moment. Pick your foods for battle. Learn to fast, especially for part of the day if you want to become intimate with someone; there are so many strategies you can have but it all starts with knowledge, which will give you enormous confidence, if you add some grit and determination to it, you will have the time of your life.

Jun 29, 2022 3:57 am
Reply to SallyK

I know exactly how you feel!! My ostomy is very busy and I no longer do as much as I used to. I only eat out at places that have music or outdoor seating. To explain my issues to others would be embarrassing. I just found this site yesterday and I am glad I did. It's nice to know I am not alone in my struggles.

Jul 10, 2022 4:59 pm
Reply to Faith04

Sorry, Faith. I just found your response now. Welcome to this forum. You are not alone.

Jul 26, 2023 1:22 pm
Reply to Mr.Heart2Win

Learn to know thyself and things become more acceptable. Indeed, it is possible to find pure joy within the moment.

Thank you to Mr Heart2Win too ....

Although some may view your response as ego-driven - upon visiting your profile they may become a little more open to your observations.

Your encouragement of others is part of learning to know oneself.

Intellect is indeed character forming - the suspension of intellect [in tandem with the development of intellect] opens the door to emotional intelligence and allows us to become a more fulfilled Beanie.

Thanks for your post -

Sometimes too although one may appear a little arrogant to some [I am working on this myself] it is only a question of learning to better express ourselves .....

And of course, learning to be happy in the rapids as well as being able to 'wallow' ourselves to linger in the shallows, finding the dappled sunlight, and enjoying the thrills of 'taking control' - but not believing all is controllable.

Sending 'raw' without spell check and 'knowing' there will be some miss keys!

Smile - Thank you

Best wishes