Ileostomy Nutrition


Nutrition plays an important part in the recovery of a patient after an ileostomy. Proper diet and large amount of liquids need to be taken to see that the patient recovers fast and that it does not cause any other side effects.


An ileostomy is a surgical process that attaches the small intestine to the abdominal wall bypassing the large intestine, thus allowing the digestive wastes to exit the body through an artificially created opening called a stoma. Nutrition therapy is generally recommended by physicians to help after an ileostomy. The diet plan can help lessen gas and odor, work on the regularity of stools, and avoid obstructions.

Diet After Surgery

After the surgery, the diet plan is restricted to clear liquids that have low sugar content. As the patient recovers, he may get on with eating solids, starting with those that are low in fiber. Solid foods must be tried one at a time and be stopped immediately when they cause adverse symptoms such as pain or increase in the ostomy (surgically-created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes). Most patients can resume a normal diet within two to six weeks of surgery.

Food Considerations

There are a few considerations before you can start eating regular food.

-- Swallowing air causes gas. It is therefore advisable to avoid chewing gum, carbonated drinks, tobacco smoking, and chewing or eating quickly. -- It is advisable to consume smaller amounts of food and chew them properly and have smaller and frequent meals as compared to large quantities all at one time. -- Avoid the intake of liquids while eating solid food. -- Have the biggest meal during the day, as opposed to nighttime, to reduce stool output during the nights. -- Consume foods that may reduce the stools' odor, such as yogurt, buttermilk, parsley, kefir and cranberry juice. -- Consume foods that thicken the stools, such as bananas, applesauce, pasta, rice, baked potatoes, marshmallows and cheese -- Drink good quantities of fluids, at least 8 to 10 cups of liquid per day, and your dietitian may also suggest an increase in the intake of foods richer in potassium and sodium.

Diet Recommendations

If any particular foods make you feel unwell, they need to be stopped and tried again in about two to three weeks' time. Finding foods that are best for you requires some trial and error. Recommended foods include:

-- Milk, skimmed or low fat, buttermilk, cheese, yogurt and low-fat ice cream. If you feel unwell after trying these, go for lactose-free products.

-- Meat and protein. Poultry and meat with no added fat, fish, eggs and smooth-nut butter. However, a few of these may cause odor and need to be tried in smaller amounts first.

-- Grains. Avoid whole-grain foods rich in fiber, but foods such as crackers, pasta, cereals, bread and bagels could be tried in small quantities at first.

-- Vegetables and fruits. Recommended vegetables include lettuce and strained vegetable juices that do not cause blockages and odors. Fruits such as bananas, oranges and grapefruits without the membrane, melons such as honeydew and watermelon, and other canned fruits except pineapples.

-- Fats. Any kind of fat is recommended, but extreme use may cause symptoms of discomfort.

-- Beverages. Favorable beverages include caffeine-free tea, decaffeinated coffee, rehydration and non-carbonated beverages.

Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements may be required for ileostomy patients, such as B12, which is normally absorbed in the distal ileum, and malabsorption of this essential vitamin could lead to anemia.

Also, you could undergo depression as a result of a changed diet and bodily function. With the doctor’s help, proper rest and family support, you will be able to recover faster and feel better.

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