What Foods Can You Eat After a Colostomy?

Medically Reviewed on 11/23/2022
Foods To Eat After a Colostomy
Those who undergo a colostomy usually do not need to follow a specific dietary plan.

Low-fiber foods such as white rice or white bread, low-fiber fruits, strained (pulp-free) juices, and vegetables are some of the recommended foods for a colostomy diet

Protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy, and nut butter, are also recommended as they promote wound healing.

Dietary tips following a colostomy

  • Eat regular meals and various foods from all five food groups.
  • If certain foods don't suit you immediately after surgery, try reintroducing them later.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluids daily.
  • Talk to your doctor about when you can resume normal activities and any concerns about living with a colostomy.

What is a colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgery that involves creating an opening in the abdomen that connects to a section of the large bowel (colon).

  • During surgery, an opening (called a stoma) is created. The colon is brought through this opening and attached to the skin on the abdomen.
  • To collect waste, a bag is attached to the skin. The anus is no longer the waste exit, and the stoma becomes the exit point for bowel movements and gas.

A colostomy should not impair your ability to eat or digest food. You can reduce symptoms, such as odor, gas, and stools that are too loose or too firm, by following specific dietary guidelines.

What are the general eating and drinking guidelines for people with colostomies?

Before being discharged from the hospital, your surgeon and nutritionist will discuss some guidelines with you. After you leave the hospital, your doctor and nutritionist will help you get back on track with your regular diet.

The effects of various foods on stool output will differ depending on the type of surgery and the function/length of the remaining bowel. To determine individual food tolerance, try new foods in small amounts.

The following are a few guidelines for people with colostomies:

  • Remember to chew thoroughly at all times.
  • For the first few weeks after surgery, eat bland, and low-fiber foods.
  • Reintroduce more flavorful, fiber-rich foods gradually into your diet to see how they affect your digestion.
  • Choose lean meats over meats with visible fat or those fried in oil.
  • Replace beans and whole grains with refined grains such as pasta, white bread, and rice. 
  • Choose simple noncarbonated beverages such as water, decaffeinated coffee, and tea. 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol-containing beverages after a colostomy because they may irritate your gut.

What foods should you eat after having a colostomy?

Begin with a clear liquid diet and gradually introduce low-fiber, solid foods back into your diet.

High-fiber foods are more difficult for your body to digest. As you heal, gradually reintroduce more fiber-rich foods (brown rice, whole grains, oats) into your diet.

Most people can resume their regular diet after six weeks.


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How to reintroduce foods into your diet

  • Every few days, introduce one new food. Begin with foods you could eat without difficulty before surgery.
  • Make a list of foods that give you odor, gas, or diarrhea
  • If a food triggers symptoms, avoid it for two to three weeks. Then, in small amounts, repeat it to see your body's response.

How do you reduce gas and eliminate odors?

  • Avoid using straws, chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, and smoking or chewing tobacco. These substances can cause you to swallow air and expel more gas.
  • Avoid fruit and vegetable skins.
  • Limit your intake of beans, peas, garlic, leeks, onions, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, fish, eggs, and alcoholic beverages.
  • Increase your intake of buttermilk, yogurt, cranberry juice, and parsley.

What should you do to thicken your stool and prevent diarrhea?

  • Avoid spicy, fried, greasy, and sugary foods.
  • Avoid the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
  • If you don't feel well after drinking milk or eating dairy products, try lactose-free alternatives.
  • Consult your doctor or a nutritionist if you have any questions.
  • To naturally thicken your stool, including applesauce, bananas, white rice, smooth peanut butter, potatoes, pasta, and cheese in your diet.

Other useful tips

  • Drink at least 8 to 10 cups of fluids per day.
  • Consume your food slowly and chew thoroughly.
  • Instead of large meals, eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Eat meals and snacks on a consistent daily schedule.
  • To avoid high colostomy output at night, eat your largest meal in the middle of the day.

Is a special diet required after a colostomy?

You do not need to follow a special diet because of colostomy. Your body will continue to digest and absorb nutrients in your small bowel (small intestine). People with colostomies should eat a healthy, balanced diet from all five food groups (bread and cereals, vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy).

Is there anything you shouldn't eat after a colostomy?

No. People who have undergone a colostomy typically have no specific dietary restrictions.

Medically Reviewed on 11/23/2022
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