After ostomy surgery, it can feel super overwhelming when it comes to what you should and shouldn't eat. It's important to remember that whilst following medical advice is vital, a lot of what we are told are general guidelines. No two people who have had ostomy surgery are the same and a lot of it comes to getting to know your body with an ostomy as time passes & a lot of the time, what affects your ostomy may not affect others and vice versa. In this blog post, we will mainly be referring to an ileostomy and colostomy when we use the term "ostomy", although we will briefly refer to a urostomy too and we will state this when we do.
There are some guidelines which are more prominent in ostomy life than others when it comes to diet, such as learning what can make output thicker and thinner, but again, some people may find that they are different and one of the ways in which you can try to have more of an idea about what impacts your ostomy and how is by keeping a food diary over a period of time such as a month.
Your ostomy & how it reacts to food post-surgery
It's important to know that how your ostomy reacts to food and diet post-surgery can be very different to further on in your recovery and this can be hard to draw a correlation between things such as food and your ostomy output, so taking a food diary may be a better idea 3 or 4 months post surgery.
After ostomy surgery, your ostomy may take a while to start producing output and you may notice a little bit of blood-tinged output. This is normal and your medical team will check on you to ensure nothing is cause for concern. As always, don't hesitate to mention something to your medical team that you may want to question or you may be worrying about. It is also common to be on a liquid only diet until your bowel "wakes up" after surgery and then be slowly introduced to more bland, low residue foods which are easier to digest, in small amounts.
Things that are also common after surgery are excess wind, odour when emptying and changing your ostomy bag, stomach and ostomy noises, feeling nauseous & sometimes being sick (if your bowel "goes to sleep" after surgery), very runny output, green output (caused by bile) a swollen, sore stomach and a swollen stoma. You may also have stitches around your stoma that or either dissolvable or may need taking out a few weeks after surgery. The size of your stoma usually reduces within the first few weeks of surgery and sometimes, it can change shape too. Size can often change over the first 2-3 months post surgery also. Your stoma nurse will help you keep track of this and show you how to cut your bags as things change.
To avoid or not to avoid nuts?
General ostomy guidance for those after ileostomy or colostomy surgery is to avoid things such as nuts, seeds and popcorn and other fibrous foods as they are harder to digest and can potentially cause a blockage. Nuts should not cause a problem with those who have a urostomy by itself.
Especially for 6-8 weeks post surgery, roughly, ostomates are advised to stick to more of a "safe" diet ie food that is easy to digest.
This guidance is general, however, and there are ostomates who have a very unlimited diet and can pretty much eat what they wish with no ill effects. If you are going to try something new, especially food which is harder to digest like nuts, then try them in very small amounts and chew, chew and chew! Try new foods one at a time so that you can spot what has likely caused any changes in your ostomy output or pain etc easier. Also, it's a good idea to stay hydrated with an ostomy, but drink more fluid after having food that is harder to digest to help process it through your system.
If you are worried about a potential blockage, drinking fizzy drinks can also help push food through your system, but be aware of the sugar content and also the fact that you can get excess wind and/or trapped wind from them too, alongside excess wind from new foods or drinks that are known to be wind and odour-producing.
Adhesions present in the bowel (also known as scar tissue) can also cause increased risk of blockages, so it is important to bear this in mind, especially if you have been told you do have or may have adhesions. Signs of a blockage and what to do can be read here.
Alternative ways to get nuts in your diet
If you are not allergic to nuts, turning nuts in to a more processed format in the form of smooth nut butters such as peanut and almond butter can be a good way to get nuts into your diet without worrying about whole nuts and chewing them. Please note, however, that nut butters can also thicken up output for some people.
Cashew nuts such as ones without skins can be a safer place to start if you do want to try nuts but try them in small amounts and chew thoroughly.
If you have either an ileostomy and urostomy or a colostomy and urostomy, it's important to take both of them into mind when it comes to your diet.
Generally, diet with a urostomy isn't restricted if you have one without an ileostomy or colostomy too, but there are certain foods and drinks that can cause odour and colour changes in urine output.
You know your gut best!
You know your body best, so go with your gut (even if you only have some left) but just exercise trying new foods with common sense and caution. Always seek medical advice if you're worried and/or you are worried you can't shift an ostomy blockage.
Can you eat nuts with your ostomy? Comment below!
Disclaimer: As always, this post is from our Social Media & Marketing Specialist, Amy's, experience of living with a permanent ileostomy, Crohn's Disease and from what she has researched. Nothing in our blog posts should be taken as medical advice. It's always best to consult a medical professional if you have queries or concerns.
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