By Mary Lou Boyer, BS Ed, RN, ET, WOC Nurse Specialist
Soon after your ostomy surgery, you most likely should be able to return to eating your normal diet. However, for the first few weeks after the surgery, it is generally recommended that you follow a low residue diet. This means avoiding foods that are high in fiber, such as raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, corn, or any foods with skin or seeds. Your intestine is swollen from manipulation and suturing during surgery and low residue, or soft foods, pass more easily through the intestines while they are healing.
As you begin to get back to your normal diet it is best to add new foods one at a time. Using this method allows you to notice if you experience intestinal discomfort with any of these foods. If there is any problem, you can omit that particular food and try to introduce it into your diet again at a later date. You may want to keep a food diary to help you remember which foods bother you.
It takes a long time for your digestive system to fully recover. It is important to eat regularly and chew well. Eating a well balanced diet is essential to maintain good nutrition for healing and to keep bowel activity normal. It is important also to note that you cannot slow or stop the bowel from working by not eating or drinking. Skipping meals leaves empty spaces in the bowel, causing gas and discomfort.
The ostomy nutrition guidelines provided here are intended to help guide you as you get back into eating and as you experiment with the foods you eat. Food is an important part of our lives and essential for healing. The fact that you have an ostomy should not interfere with your choices, but remember that certain foods are best enjoyed in moderation. Use common sense and eat a good variety of foods.