Safe diet for colostomy patients: Need advice on what to eat with limited output and no appetite

Aug 04, 2011 7:43 pm

Is there such a thing as an ostomy diet?
I am barely getting any output from my colostomy in at least a month, and I have absolutely no appetite.
Last year I was in the hospital with what they thought was a partial small bowel obstruction.
My "diet" has been a small amount of baby oatmeal and some coffee at breakfast: maybe a cup of soup for lunch. A small amount of yogurt, jars of baby fruit.
I tried to eat small amounts of well-cooked green beans with the carrots today.
I've tried to drink white grape juice.
What are the "safe" things one can eat.
I am so frightened because I feel backed up, and am afraid to eat much, in case of blockage.
And if anything should happen, my doctors are way out of town.

Aug 05, 2011 3:01 pm
Hello mis010fit,

It's interesting that you should ask about ostomy diet and include what you are eating now, or rather not eating. A few weeks ago someone was asking how they could reduce the output from their stoma and one of the replies was quite instructive. It said "if you eat like a horse- then you s**t like a horse!"  In your case it sounds as if the reverse is the case as your diet, as you have listed it, sounds to be at almost starvation levels. There is a sense where whatever we eat is a 'diet', so it may be a case of just trying stuff to see what response you get.

As is the way with this site, I will briefly share my own experience surrounding  this subject:

Before my colostomy I had to be very careful what I ate because I had faecal incontinence but I also had a stricture which meant that if the stools were too hard it split me open and took days to recover. To prevent blockages I used a carefully measured mixture of Psillium Husk and immodium syrup. I also restricted my input to those things I knew would not bind me up.  The dietician gave me  a list of such things but they can also be found on the literature produced for Ostomates.

When I had my operation I decided to start again with food input experimenting.  The first thing I stopped was the previous regime. I then started gradually adding stuff (that I liked) to my diet to see what happened as throughput and output.  What I found was that there was very little that I could not eat and I have had no problems with blockages.  With hindsight, I now wonder whether maybe the constipation was more to do with my own worry about it than it was to do with what I was or was not eating. I am now irrigating regularly and feel that one of the greatest benefits is to see what comes out.  The  consistency is very instructive in that the first 'flush' is relatively firm (this was probably what would have caused a blockage prior to the ostomy) it then gets progressively softer until the last 'flush', which is liquid.  I am still a little concerned about potential blockages so I irrigate almost every day. (even though it may not strictly be necessary) However, I am now eating relatively normally, three meals a day, without medication for it.  I feel so much better physically and psychologically. I am much more confident, partly because I know what is going in and what is coming out and it has become much more predictable and so more 'manageable'.

Each of us is different in what we are willing and able to do and what might be needed. Thus, I don't expect you to follow that which has suited me. However, I do hope my own experiences help you in your own decision making and I hope that you get it sorted soon

Best wishes

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Aug 07, 2011 10:30 am

Have to say, I didn't follow the hospital "diet". I actually got to think so far back, I was too sick to eat after surgery anyway. But after many this, that, and the other, I actually eat anything I like. Something, though, you know, you might suffer, but honestly, you need to fuel up your body. Please start to add more things and chew. Mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, all that stuff you need to start to put into that poor body. Darlz, food. I get it, you're scared. Can you make any emergency plans if you need to?

Aug 08, 2011 12:19 am

You may have to be a bit more daring if you ever want to get off the soft diet. I had massive small bowel obstructions too in the past and know how awful they are...still over the last two and a half years my diet has advanced to practically normal and then some! I can certainly understand having no appetite for applesauce and oatmeal! The United Ostomy Association ( puts out a very good ostomy diet. If you can try to advance your diet gradually, but stay away from pasta, too many bananas, raw pineapple and other things that easily "clog" the system. Starchy, woody veggies are also out at first unless cooked to near extinction (I'm thinking celery) - how about soups that are easily digestible yet have some substance - beef with barley, chicken noodle, anything except split pea and navy bean which I find really gassy. Good luck - so much is just trial and error!

Past Member
Aug 08, 2011 1:04 am

I eat everything. I have an ileostomy and don't have much small bowel left. I think you have to try everything until you see how it affects you. My doctor says it's not a question of what you eat but what's eating you.

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Past Member
Aug 08, 2011 9:02 pm

Hi! I have to confess -- I didn't have problems before my surgery (other than occasional constipation). But now, I'm very aware of what "binds" me and what doesn't. I've found that if I add some anti-constipation medical powder (memory fart stops me from giving a brand name - sorry!!!) first thing with my breakfast juice, or ?? it helps keep my consistency to a good level so that "irrigations" don't cause cramping.

Hope you find the answers you're looking for -- maybe some you didn't realize you wanted!!!

Aug 09, 2011 3:26 am

It's summer and I'm dying for some corn on the cob? Do I dare? I have an ileo and had an internal hernia with surgery last year; had the ileo in 2008. I haven't tried canned corn, but I can eat zucchini, tomatoes, nuts if I chew a lot and have a pretty normal diet. So much so that I went from being a 98 lb weakling after surgery to a healthy 130+ lbs now.

Aug 10, 2011 10:37 am

God's woman, go on, give it a go. Just chew, remember. Hmmm, now I want some corn. Hahahahah, monkey see, I do... Yes, I have had corn and all the rest. Just try it, I reckon you would be fine. xx Mooza

Aug 12, 2011 3:59 am

Thanks, Mooza. I'm going to buy some tomorrow and chew about 40 times!

Aug 12, 2011 4:35 am

Good for you, just a little bit. See how you do? You can't let this get you, ya know. Hahaha! Xxx cheers.

Aug 15, 2011 7:07 pm

This is Zack from the sweet corn country of southern Michigan where it is now "high season" for sweet corn. Love it too and you can have corn on the cob. It doesn't really digest much but may not with "regular" folks either.

changed life
Oct 07, 2016 12:01 pm

Hi Bill, I just read your reply to someone and in your reply you stated, "I am now irrigating regularly and feel that one of the greatest benefits is to see what comes out. The consistency is very instructive in that the first 'flush' is relatively firm (this was probably what would have caused a blockage prior to the ostomy) it then gets progressively softer until the last 'flush', which is liquid." What do you mean by irrigating and how is it done?

Oct 08, 2016 8:24 am

Hello Changed life.  It's comforting to think that there are other people who still read old posts, as I love to wander through past messages when I have time.

There is lots of informative informationand instructive videos on irrigation  which would probably describe it far better than I can. However, Here is a brief run-down on what happens in my case. Bearing in mind that everyone tends to ewb slightly different.)

Firstly, it should be pointed out that irrigation is only suitable for people with colostomies because they still have enough lower bowel for the process to work properly. Even the, some folks have other complications which may make them unsuitable, so it would be best to seek medical advice as to whether you are a candidate for this, rather than just ploughing ahead on your own.

Having said that, My procedure begins with all the necessary equipment: A mechanism for passing the water into the stoma, which consists of a receptical attached to a tube and a cone-shaped piece of rubber. This comes as a kit, but I've adapted it so that I can push the water in under pressure, for reasons that I won't go into here. (see My blog/ review on the Braun irrigation system). I use Dansac irrigation sleeves, which are almost a metre long and have a wafer that sticks around the stoma just lie a bag would. These sleeves are long enough to go from the stoma into the loo. I have made an alternative seat for the loo which is basically a foam padded plank, which means that I can sit comfortably facing forwards and the sleeve goes down between my legs. This method means that I do not have to undress other than opening up my shirt to expose the stoma.   The luke warm water gets fed into the  stoma via the cone and the operation takes place inside the sleeve as it has a wide opening at the top.  I temporarily seal the top of the sleeve as I'm putting the water in so that it doesn't splash. The amount of water varies with each person so we'll skip that for now. Once the right amount of water is in, the cone is removed and the top of the sleeve is wound over and sealed to stop splashes. There is a period that follows input where the water pushes out the faeces under the pressure exerted by the peristalsis(muscles). A warning should be given that this can seem quite violent at times until you get used to it. For me the process of expulsion takes between 30 minutes and an hour. Often, there is an afterburst of water and faeces some time after the whole thing seems to be finished. I manage this by irrigating in the evening and folding the sleeve up and sealing it in such a way that it becomes  a bag for the night. By the morning, I can be confident that there will be no more output for the rest of the day so I use a stoma plug. This plug has nothing to do with stopping output  but it helps to gontrol my peristomal hernia by keeping the hole open all day. If I did not have a hernia I would probably do without the plug altogether.

Many people do not have to irrigate every day but I feel safer having this routine. The benefits of irrigation cannot be overstated in that my days are completely worry-free as far as finding toilets or worrying about leakages, smells,  etc,etc.

I hipe this gives you some idea of what irrigation is about and I also hope that you can have a go for yourself.

Best wishes