By Kyle Jindel | Disclaimer
In general, most people don’t think much about how their body digests food. But anyone with an ostomy should know – in fact quality of life depends on knowing – how their body processes different kinds of foods. The reasons for this is simple: knowing how diet affects digestion is going to make stoma output more predictable, provide superior health and wellness, and avoid embarrassing or difficult situations.
Ostomates have concerns for digestion that are unique: food blockages can happen (where larger pieces of undigested or semi-digested food block movement through the body), constipation, indigestion and diarrhea are all different experiences for those with ostomy. But the smart management of diet and nutrition for an ostomate is absolutely essential for living well with ostomy.
Here are some tips along with some common foods that affect digestion patterns:
- Slow Down and Chew – Chewing food properly lessens the chance for food blockages around the stoma, keeps you from overeating and also keeps you from swallowing less gas that ends up in the pouch.
- Schedule Regular Meals – Eating small meals throughout the day is best, without skipping. Skipping meals and overeating produce extra gas.
- Drink Water – Stay hydrated; it’s common many ostomy patients experience higher levels of fluid loss due to the nature of colostomy / illeostomy surgeries and its impact on how the intestines process water.
- Don’t Get Fat – Stay slim and healthy, it’s better for your stoma and better for your overall health.
- Make Gradual Diet Changes – This helps you determine how foods effect your digestive system. You will begin to notice how certain foods are digested and their impact on how your pouches fill.
- Keep a Log Book – Make notes of when, what, and how you eat, then also how it affects your digestion and ostomy. This helps keep track of what foods work best for you.
How Certain Foods Affect You
Everyone’s body is different, but here are some good foods to eat and foods to avoid. Generally, high fiber foods and high fat content foods produce more gas and odors, but everyone’s body is different and you’ll only know if you experiment with different types of foods.
- Foods to avoid for odors and/or gas: Asparagus, coffee, garlic, prunes, beans, cucumbers, green peppers, radishes, brussel sprouts, eggs, milk, turnips, cabbage, fish, vitamins/certain drugs, alcoholic beverages, apples, soda, dairy products, onions, drinking straws & chewing gum (you’ll swallow more air), melons, mushrooms, corn, broccoli, spinach, nuts, cabbage.
- Some foods that help decrease odors: Buttermilk, parsley, yogurt, cranberry juice, spinach.
- Foods that thicken output: Yogurt, bananas, milk (preferably boiled), creamy peanut butter, breads, cheeses, pastas, potatoes, rice.
- Food that thin output: Fruits and fruit juices, chocolate, green beans.
Fluid loss is an important factor for any ostomate, but it’s even more so with cases of diarrhea. Potassium and sodium are two minerals that are usually lost in dehydration and must be replenished. Here are some foods high in Potassium that help get back lost minerals due to diarrhea and fluid loss: Milk, Chicken, beef, fish, pork, turkey, V8 Juice, apricots, bananas, avocado, potatoes, oranges and orange juice, watermelon, berries.
Salt is very easy to get back, basically any pre-packaged food product or canned soup has enough sodium to get back what was lost!
Stay aware and stay fit! Having an ostomy does not mean you can’t live well and enjoy the foods you like. With some simple precautions and a good understanding of your digestive system, it is possible to continue to optimize your diet and nutrition to make your pouching more predictable and easier.
Kyle Jindel writes on home health topics like ostomy, urological/urinary, catheterization, impotence, senior aid, patient care and more. To find ostomy supplies and home medical supplies, visit STLMedical.com.
Photo credit: Depositphotos