Regulating Your Ostomy: Impact of Meal Timing on Output

Sep 02, 2023 12:00 am

Okay, so I have noticed when I stay on a regular eating schedule my ostomy is predictable and the output is very average. But if I skip a meal or eat later in the morning then my ostomy goes nuts for the rest of the day. Like today I had fasting lab work and didn't get to eat breakfast until about 9am. For the rest of the day my ostomy (Marvin) was just liquid and high volume. (1,400cc just in the afternoon alone). (Over 2,000 before dinner.) This is with 2 imodiums mind you. Does anyone else notice this happen to them? Can a schedule that rarely varies really cause this much disruption. (My typical all day output is 1,200 to 1,400). This has happened to me a few times before when I didn't eat on my usual schedule, so I was wondering what other people's experiences are. (I have an ileostomy if it helps to know).


Sep 02, 2023 7:33 am

Hello Lee.

I have a colostomy and irrigate but still have to keep to a regular routine, otherwise the output is unpredictable. ( I was going to say 'all over the place' but that is a different story!)
For many reasons, our family get togethers involve going out for meals in the evenings and I don't get home to sort my stoma out until quite late (10:00pm), whereas my regular time is 6pm. It takes about two days to get back to 'normal' in terms of output predictability.
I feel sure that different people have different experiences of this, but this is mine!
Best wishes

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Sep 02, 2023 1:37 pm

Maybe your ostomy is new but do you always measure your output? Just wondering as I've never paid any attention to how much I have, they did measure mine while in the hospital but that's it. 🤷‍♂️

Sep 02, 2023 2:43 pm

I don't really pay attention, I just know there's a change when I change my eating habits and I deal with it. Maybe, like you said, your stoma makes up for lost time and gushes. I know anything liquid other than water, like decaf coffee and OJ, fills my bag with a lot of liquid very quickly. I hate fasting but the good thing to come out of it is less output. I really can't pay attention to more than that or my head will explode! 😜

Sep 02, 2023 3:24 pm

I don't pay much attention either. Unless I feel something unusual when emptying the bag. The Hollister pouches I use can hold a lot of output. When I feel it getting heavy is when I pay attention to it.

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Sep 02, 2023 4:34 pm

Just like everyone else, when you change your routine, your stoma changes as well. If I have a few adult beverages, my output is slower and thicker. It takes me a day or two to "recover". You'll learn more and more about your stoma as you eat differently.

Sep 02, 2023 9:21 pm

I've never measured my output either, or worried too much about it. I do notice differences when I change my eating routine though, which doesn't seem too surprising. As long as you are prepared for any changes, it shouldn't be a big deal. I can be caught off guard though, like the other day when traveling home by car ferry. I knew my dinner was going to be late in coming, and they had hot chocolate in the ferry cafe, so I thought, "why not?". Well, I returned to my car with my hot chocolate and drank it, only to have my pouch almost instantly fill with very loose output. I had to go back upstairs to the loo, supporting my pouch with my hand to prevent it from ripping off my skin, it was so heavy! Note to self, "next time you drink hot chocolate, be at home, or near a bathroom!".


Sep 02, 2023 9:43 pm
Reply to TerryLT

Hi, Terry~

I remember reading some time back that an ostomate experienced a very fast stomach-to-pouch transit time with warm/hot liquids versus cold, which didn't seem to be as problematic for him.

Be well~


Sep 03, 2023 8:20 pm
Reply to Lily17

Hi Lily, (long time)

There might be something to the temperature thing, but I don't have the same reaction with coffee or tea. I don't think it's the chocolate either, as I consume my fair share of that too, with no noticeable effect. Who knows?


Sep 03, 2023 9:00 pm
Reply to eefyjig

Me exactly!

Sep 03, 2023 9:07 pm
Reply to AlexT

It may have something to do with being a newbie. One of my first visits to the surgeon after my surgery, he asked me how many milliliters of output I have daily - wait, what? How would I know this - he said, didn't they send a measuring container home with you? Looking under a pile of medications, voilà, there it was! I think I used it once. How can one get back to normal with so many pills and instructions 🥴 - depending on what I eat and drink, there is no set amount of output. Ole' Seymour Vesuvius may share. jb

Sep 04, 2023 11:12 pm

I also have this problem, maybe at 10 weeks (what is time?), with an ileostomy. The issue for me is that I go from a manageable amount of thick output to emptying a full bag (like 350mL) every hour. Sometimes it can fill in 20 minutes without me eating or drinking anything.

It's an absolute nightmare. I can't go out because public restrooms are few to none (thanks, COVID), and even at home, I can't focus on a task because I keep having to empty. It's worlds worse than my situation before the surgery.

Sep 05, 2023 12:23 pm
Reply to Lily17

I don't know whether this is true or myth. I read some time ago that cold water goes directly to the SI and warm or hot water goes directly to the colon. Without a colon, I guess that would mean hot water/drink goes directly to the bag.

Sep 05, 2023 3:49 pm
Reply to RunJumpClimb

You're blaming Covid for no public bathrooms? 😂 Maybe during the height of Covid some were shut down but not years later.

Sep 05, 2023 6:09 pm

I have a permanent colostomy, and if I eat too late or too much, it basically messes my whole day up because I'm in the bathroom all day and night! It's better to keep on schedule if you can, but I know sometimes you can't always, so good luck.

Sep 06, 2023 4:34 pm
Reply to AlexT


I always measure my output because I am on an Imodium schedule. The amount of output I have in a day predicts how much Imodium I will take the next day. For instance, if my output was below 1,200, I would take no Imodium the next day, and if my output is 2,200, I would take 2 Imodium in the morning, 2 at lunch, and 1 at dinner. If my output goes over 2,400cc, I am supposed to call my doctor. I got this script for Imodium at the hospital, and my doctor wants me to always (or almost always) measure and take the medication accordingly. 


Sep 06, 2023 4:35 pm
Reply to Bill


I have an ileostomy. It is the same for me too, though. It takes a couple of days to correct itself when it gets off. If I don't stay on schedule, the output is unreal.


Sep 06, 2023 4:37 pm
Reply to eefyjig


When I fast, I don't get less output. I actually get way more output and usually more liquid.


Sep 06, 2023 4:40 pm
Reply to bballman54


My stoma seems to throw a royal tantrum if I change my schedule. It shoots out a high volume of liquid output for the rest of the day and sometimes into the next day as well. That is just if I eat 3 hours later than normal.


Sep 06, 2023 5:21 pm
Reply to TerryLT


Do you think it was the sugar or the caffeine in the cocoa that stimulated your ostomy?


Sep 06, 2023 5:29 pm
Reply to Justbreathe

Just breathe,

I don't mind measuring if I am at home, but I can't do it in a public restroom. I am trying to learn to eyeball it, but so far I underestimate every time. They gave me 2 measuring cups and I keep one in each bathroom in my house. (Although in the bathroom company would use, I keep it tucked away in a cabinet.) I just got used to doing it and now it is routine. I am 5 months post-surgery (for my relocation surgery) so after doing it for 5 months it is just set in my head this is how I am supposed to do things.


Sep 06, 2023 5:32 pm
Reply to RunJumpClimb

Run, jump, climb.

I can see where that would be frustrating. Have you tried a high-volume bag? I started out with high-volume bags for about 2 months post-surgery. I use regular ones now and empty 5 to 8 times a day depending on how active my stoma is being for the day. At first, though, I had very high-volume output.


Sep 06, 2023 5:35 pm
Reply to stevenledlow98


I do try to stay pretty much on schedule because that makes for regular output. However, there are just some times when I can't eat at 6:30 am like normal, or I can't grab a lunch by noon. It is those times that it seems like my stoma throws a hissy fit.


Sep 07, 2023 11:48 am

My stoma has been very rampant. I have been put on tablets to slow down as most of my liquid is coming out too, and I am getting dehydrated. I have a stoma and ileostomy, they are the Kray twins as I call them.

Sep 20, 2023 7:22 am
Reply to Lily17

Hi there... I find this with coffee! It goes straight through me (ileostomy). It's crazy.

Oct 08, 2023 2:12 pm
Reply to RunJumpClimb

Hello, it sounds like you have a fluctuating response to something you drink or eat. Keep a journal of all intake (note temperatures of beverages, please) and medicines, especially over the counter. I truly mean every over the counter, certain products in Neo Citrain lemon drink for Cold and Flu light up my husband's high flow ileostomy.

My husband takes Imodium 2mg x 2 tabs 4 times daily to slow down flow. This dosage has cut down on searching for restrooms everywhere.

I know my husband needs to enjoy life; therefore, the food and liquid journal in concert with the Imodium has allowed him more freedom.

I keep my husband hydrated with sips of room temperature drinks and only one caffeine coffee per day.