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This information is on diet and lifestyle for patients who have an ileostomy (stoma). Stomas are surgically created openings made on the abdomen to divert bowel waste and are used as a treatment for a number of medical conditions including cancer, diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Approximately 1 in 500 people have a stoma in the UK .
Foods and fluids can have an impact on stoma output volume and consistency as well as symptoms. This diet page discusses strategies to resolve these issues as well as how to eat in the initial weeks following your surgery. It is also important to ensure you remain well nourished and hydrated without the function of your large bowel due to ileostomy formation.
If you have any further questions relating to your diet and ileostomy please speak with a dietitian or a stoma nurse.
Following the formation of your ileostomy it is recommended to follow a low fibre diet initially (between 4 to 6 weeks). This allows your gut to heal and any swelling to settle. This advice is only to be followed for a short period of time following your surgery.
Fibre is a complex indigestible carbohydrate found in plant foods. The following tables identify foods lower in fibre (foods to choose column)
||Examples of foods to choose||Foods to avoid|
|Breads, crackers and flour products||White bread and rolls.
White crackers e.g. cream crackers, water biscuits or matzo crackers.
|Wholemeal, wholegrain, granary or seeded bread and rolls 50 50 bread.
Bread or bread products with nuts, seeds, or dried fruit.
Wholemeal crackers, e.g. Ryvita.
|Bran based cereals e.g. All Bran, Branflakes.
Wholewheat cereals e.g. Shreddies,
Shredded Wheat, Weetabix.
Cereals containing dried fruit or nuts e.g. granola, muesli, crunchy nut flakes.
White pasta or noodles.
Potatoes without their skins e.g. boiled, mashed or sweet.
Cous cous or bulgar wheat.
Wholemeal pasta or noodles.
Wholegrains e.g. quinoa, pearl barley
The skins of potatoes e.g. jacket potatoes, new potatoes.
Vegetables and salad
Aim for 2 portions per day
|Most well cooked, soft or mashable vegetables without the peel or seeds.
Passata (sieved tomato).
Vegetable based soups.
Florets of broccoli and cauliflower.
|Raw or lightly cooked vegetables.
Vegetables with seeds e.g. cucumber or tomato.
Vegetables with skins or husks e.g. peas, sweetcorn, celery.
High fibre vegetables e.g. mushrooms, spinach, cabbage.
Beans, pulses and legumes.
Aim for 1 portions per day
|Soft, ripe, peeled fruit without seeds, pips and stalks e.g. banana, peach, plum or apple.
Most canned or cooked fruits e.g. fruit cocktail.
Berries e.g. blackberries or strawberries.
Fruit juice with bits.
Smoothies that contain whole blended fruits.
|Nuts and seeds||Smooth nut butters.
(e.g peanut, almond).
|All nuts and seeds.
Crunchy peanut butter.
|Meat, fish and alternatives||Poultry.
Slow cooked and lean meats.
Tofu and tempeh.
Meat based soups.
|Tough, gristly meat.|
Hard, soft or cream cheese.
|Yoghurt with pips, nuts, or seeds.
Cheese with fruit or nuts.
Milk puddings e.g. mousse, rice pudding.
|Puddings with dried fruit, nuts, seeds or coconut.|
Plain cake and scones.
Confectionery e.g. fudge.
Biscuit, cakes or scones made with wholemeal flour.
Smooth fruit juice (no bits) (max 125ml per day).
Fruit juice with bits.
|Fats||All fats in moderation e.g. butter, margarine, oil and cream, Avocado.|
Honey or syrup.
Sauces e.g. Ketchup, brown sauce, mustard.
Salad dressings e.g. mayonnaise or vinaigrette.
Jam with bits.
After 4 to 6 weeks start reintroducing some fibre back into your diet. Consider introducing small portions of higher fibre foods and increase gradually to tolerance.
Occasionally high fibre foods can contribute to a high output stoma (more than 1.5 litres per day). This is associated with dehydration and salt deficiency. If this is an issue, continue the low fibre advice for longer and introduce higher fibre foods more gradually and one at a time to assess tolerance.
Ileostomies can be associated with high fluid and salt losses and can lead to chronic dehydration. To avoid this aim for 8 to 10 cups of fluid per day (max 2 litres) and consider isotonic sports drinks (lucozade, powerade) or oral rehy-dration solutions (dioralyte) to improve hydration as they contain extra salts that water does not. If you are concerned that your stoma output may be high or have the symptoms below discuss with a healthcare professional including your GP, Dietitian or Stoma Nurse.
The following stoma issues have been associated with some foods. Consider eliminating the foods discussed below for a short while (around 1 week) and assess response. Reintroduce the eliminated foods if no difference is observed.
Foods that can cause gas/bloating:
Foods that can prevent odour:
Foods that can cause loose stool:
Foods that can cause blockage or obstruction:
Foods that can thicken stool output:
If you are diabetic you may wish to avoid some of the foods mentioned that are higher in simple sugars.
Consider using a food diary if symptoms persist.
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information here is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: April 2022
Review Date: October 2024