What we eat before and after can change dramatically however for some people that just isn’t the case and they are most definitely the lucky ones! Over the past six years of having my ileostomy my diet has had to change a few times due to either intolerances or learning that certain foods I could eat now give me blockages or are more prone to allowing my stoma bag to leak. There sadly isn’t a one diet fits all which I often think is a particular shame because it would certainly make my life a heck of a lot easier.
Some people have the added issues of being diabetic, celiac or have a lactose intolerance then there are those who are veggie, vegan or even pescetarian. Then we have physical issues such as malabsorption, strictures, other bowel issues and still having ulcers if you have Crohns. This all can make a new ostomates head spin and just frustrate someone who has had their stoma for a while and has new issues to deal with. Oh, and not to mention the fact that most people in general don’t chew their food properly! Those without stomas probably wouldn’t notice that they don’t but we often do like noticing the rogue pea that popped out whole!
I can only obviously speak for myself and it’s one of the things that really gets me down if I’m honest as food is a big part of my life. I’m a mother hen; if you come to my house, I will generally try to feed you or just offer you food. I since moving out from my marital home now have the issue of, I’m not eating properly due to the fact for the past 11 years I wouldn’t just cook for myself even if I was cooking an entirely separate meal for me. Now my body is lucky if I have one proper meal a day. My children’s dad would tell you I’m a grazer when it comes to food and that I emotionally eat too, and he probably isn’t wrong in that regard.
I’ve noticed that having hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome hasn’t helped with what I eat as I have what is known as slow transit and that causes constipation. Now loosely speaking because I have no large bowel, I shouldn’t get constipated but as my peristalsis is so slow it seems to be thicker depending on what I eat (hello potato) and then causes pancaking. Pancaking is where the output is that thick it doesn’t fall into the bag but ends up pushing the base plate away from the skin causing leaks.
I don’t eat a lot of meat generally as when I was in flare with my ulcerative colitis meat would often make it worse and veggies were generally okay for me. However, it took 20 years to learn that onions were a huge offender in my diet and still are as they cause me blockages; even when diced like you get in McDonalds burgers so I try to avoid them - which is incredibly difficult as they used as a cheap filler in most foods. So, I generally must cook my food from scratch, but I have other conditions that cause a hell of a lot of fatigue which leaves me no energy to cook then I just eat crap or buy takeaways and end up wasting the food I have in the fridge as my freezer is too small to prevent waste.
This past month I have decided to trial one of the subscription boxes that have recipes and all the ingredients to make the meals. This way I have either two teas per recipe or a tea and a lunch as there is only meal to cater for. I have found so far that it is a bit costly well it is to my skin flint Yorkshire self but worth it. I get to pick the meals I want up to three weeks in advance and I can change them until the week before. I find that if I don’t sit down as soon as I get in from work and just cook my meal it helps with the not wanting to cook factor! Especially as with being a home carer I’m in out and just don’t have the energy.
My stoma has seemed confused at the fact it is receiving proper food not just pizzas and chips; sure, some of the meals I’ve picked are quite fibre rich which for some ostomates is a no go, but I have found due to the slow transit I don’t get the liquid output unless I haven’t eaten anything or anything of substance. Having these boxes have worked out quite well for me as they give me a chance to try new foods or combinations that I wouldn’t have thought of before but on the other hand unless I want to pay extra for some of the meals that sound right up my street I’m also limited on choice. I guess it’s just a case of looking at the various companies that are about if it sounds like something that would interest you.
Another thing that I found that can help when it comes to eating especially when poorly or in a flare is prepping food in advance. Before my stoma when I just had my jpouch I would make three days' worth of food up and then just had to assemble or cook the meals when I wanted them. It saved time and my energy which whilst in flare was a godsend. I really need to try and do this for the meals in between those that I have the boxes for.
Another important thing to touch on before I wrap up is drinking enough as that not only keeps us hydrated but also regulates output and helps digestion of whatever we are eating. If I am having water I 9 times out of 10 will add squash to it as I was told it encourages your body to hold on to the nutrients and doesn’t flush out your electrolytes.